Brian O’Halloran has hit back at those who accused the Waterford hurlers of ‘not trying’ in their miserable Munster championship campaign.
The 28-year-old announced his retirement from the squad on Monday night, ending a ten-year run with the county senior side.
“I’ve been there since I was child in a lot of ways and I felt the time was right to step away. I thought a few months ago that it would be my last year,” he told WLR’s Déise Today programme yesterday.
As things transpired, it was a bad year for us, and I felt I had nothing more to contribute and I wanted to do different things in my life.
However the Clashmore-Kinsalebeg man defended the efforts of the players and management who have come in for hefty criticism after finishing bottom of the provincial table without a victory this summer.
He said: “If there is one thing that would sting it’s that accusation of not trying. Unless you’ve been on that field, and you’re getting beaten by 10 or 12 points, you don’t know what it feels like. It may look like players aren’t trying but psychologically your head is gone in those situations and that affects players in different ways.”
He continued: “Some lads get stuck the ground, some lads’ confidence goes to the floor and they don’t want the ball because they’re afraid to make mistakes and make things worse. It’s a tough accusation to throw at someone who has trained since last October.”
He insisted that the fingers of blame should not be pointed at manager, Paraic Fanning.
He’s a very proud Waterford man. He would bleed Waterford for you. I feel very sorry for him as regards how the year has gone.
“I’ve no reason to blame him or anyone. Paraic can’t put his finger on it and I’d be the same. I’ve no answers for why it went bad this year.”
O’Halloran, a primary school teacher in Killeagh, said that scoring a second-half point in the 2017 All Ireland final against Galway was a career highlight: “When you’re a child, you dream of playing in the All Ireland final. That was the big one.”
His first touch in senior championship resulted in a point in the 2010 Munster final replay after Davy Fitzgerald brought him onto the panel weeks after sitting the Leaving Cert.
“Winning the Munster when I was only 19 was brilliant but because I was so young and it happened so quick, I couldn’t appreciate it. If you were given a Munster medal now, you’d snap someone’s hand off.”
Between 2011 and 2014, he was plagued with hamstring and ankle injuries before he enjoyed his best years under Derek McGrath term in charge.
“I got my injuries sorted at the same time the team was flying under Derek. The impact sub role seemed to work well.”