WATERFORD hurling legend Tony Browne has confirmed his retirement from the inter-county game after this, his 19th season at the top level.
Browne, 37, came to national prominence with the 1992 Waterford U21 team that defeated Clare to win the Munster championship before adding the All-Ireland crown after overcoming Offaly in the replayed final. Two years later he won a second Munster U21 medal but Waterford didn’t win the All-Ireland title that season.
He made his championship debut for Waterford in 1992 and went on to win four Munster senior hurling titles, scoring a vital goal in the first of those victories for the Déise, the 2002 Munster final win over a heavily fancied Tipperary side.
Browne was prominent on the subsequent provincial title-winning sides in 2004, 2007 and this season, while he also added a NHL medal in 2007.
However, 1998, when Waterford went down to Clare in a replayed – and controversial – Munster final, might have been his finest season.
Browne picked up the first of his three All Star awards that year and also collected the Hurler of the Year gong.
He was also centrally involved in one of the most controversial incidents of the 90’s, when Colin Lynch of Clare was suspended for striking Browne with the hurley at the throw-in for the replayed Munster final.
At club level Browne collected seven county championship medals with Mount Sion and a Munster Club championship in 2002.
A star midfielder in the late 90’s, Browne reverted to the half-back line in recent years.
He follows Waterford’s other recent winner of the Hurler of the Year accolade, Dan Shanahan, into retirement. Shanahan, who announced he was stepping down after Waterford’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Tipperary in August, won the award in 2007, the year Waterford won the Munster title but lost the All-Ireland semi-final.
Yesterday the big Lismore man said that while he didn’t have a clash of personalities with Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald this year, they “begged to differ” on tactics.
“I always knew I wouldn’t start,” said Shanahan. “I know where I stand. It’s hard to keep 35 fellas happy in a team and I’m no different when I’m not starting. I wouldn’t say there was a personality clash, but we beg to differ on a few things. I found his training extremely good, but I thought when it came to a tactical game – Waterford don’t do tactics.”
To back up his argument Shanahan pointed to last Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
“How did Tipp win it? They went man to man. When a manager comes in and changes things so that we might stop leaking goals a bit, my view is that if we leak goals, we are good enough to get them as well.
“You’re watching the games, lads, Waterford didn’t look like getting goals this year. Our style changed completely and he brought that in and when a manager changes your style, we backed that completely. I just didn’t think that it was good for Waterford hurling. The manager sat down and studied all the stuff and thought this is the way we can beat teams. Personally, for me, it isn’t, it wasn’t.”
Shanahan felt he and fellow veteran Ken McGrath were going well enough to start.
“I’d be the first to admit it if I was going poor in training or going poorly this year by my own standards,” said Shanahan. “But I was going fairly well. Myself and Ken McGrath were two of the best forwards who weren’t playing on the team, that’s just my point of view.
“But I thought the two of us were going well enough in training for the two of us – or either one of us – to start on the day but it didn’t happen.
“(In training) I was on ‘Brick’ Walsh there and doing okay and he had a great year; I was on Liam Lawlor and he had another great year and I was okay. I was getting the better of them in training sessions so I was going well.”
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