Recently retired Waterford defender Philip Mahony has explained he could no longer devote himself to inter-county hurling because of the demands involved.
Combined with Ballygunner’s county success and forays into Munster and beyond, the wing-back had little respite in recent years and admitted he was no longer finding the inter-county experience pleasurable.
Despite only turning 29 earlier this month, Mahony felt he had to pull the plug after years of commuting between Waterford and Dublin where he worked as a secondary school teacher.
“I did it for a long time, I travelled up and down from Dublin,” he told GAANowLive’s All-Ireland Club finals preview show.
“I just wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to. With Ballygunner the last number of years, we’ve been going later into the season without any break.
“It’s a decision that I’ve made and I would have deliberated about it a lot over the last two or three years.
“I spoke to a lot of people close to me and I think it was the right time to step away from it. I need to do some other things.
“Obviously, hopefully (I will) have another good few years with Ballygunner but I’ll miss it.
I enjoyed it for a huge amount of years but it’s a decision I’ve made and I’m happy with it. I’m sure the lads will be alright without me.
Mahony’s brother Pauric captains Waterford this season and he maintained there was no issue with new manager Liam Cahill, who has also had to contend with Shane Bennett’s absence.
“It was just how I was feeling,” insisted Mahony. “I just wasn’t enjoying it for a year or two there.
"In fairness to Liam, any time I spoke to him he was very accommodating.
"I just think a lot of people wouldn’t have an idea about the amount of effort and time that goes into the game particularly over the last two or three years.
"I just found that tough to keep going with Waterford and then straight back in with Ballygunner and then the reverse and I probably didn’t get a break for a while.”
At 28, Brian O’Halloran also announced his retirement ahead of this season.
Mahony believes the trend is going to continue as the expectations and standards rise in the inter-county game.
“It’s going to become more frequent that people are going to step away at an earlier age because of the commitment and the time and effort it takes.
"I’m sure Liam and his team have huge plans and they are working extremely hard.”
Despite losing to Borris-Ileigh in November’s Munster final, Mahony anticipates Ballyhale Shamrocks will claim All-Ireland honours.
“They’re arguably as good as many county teams and in the wide-open spaces of Croke Park it’s going to be tough to nullify all six of their forwards. They should have the edge.”
Philip Mahony was speaking on the GAANowLive’s All-Ireland Club finals preview show