Former teammates Brendan Cummins and Eoin Kelly have paid tribute to retiring Tipperary defender Paul Curran.
The Mullinahone star, 33, called time on his intercounty career in an official statement released late on Thursday evening.
Curran was a member of the Tipperary squad since 2001 and after capturing an All-Ireland medal almost five years ago, he captained the Premier County to the 2012 Munster title.
And 2010 captain Kelly, a clubmate of Curran’s, reflected: “You won’t get a better and all-round more committed player than Paul Curran. He gave his all and got the very best out of himself.
“He was one of the leaders in that dressing room. He might not have said too much but preferred to let his hurling do the talking.”
Curran underwent hip surgery ahead of the 2014 championship before returning to the squad for the summer campaign.
And Curran featured in this year’s Allianz Hurling League, with his last appearance coming against Waterford in the recent semi-final defeat at Nowlan Park.
Tipp have now lost big figures from their dressing room in recent seasons. Cummins stepped down in 2013, Kelly and John O’Brien a year later and now Curran.
Kelly noted: “That’s the modern intercounty game – that’s the way it is. Slowly but surely it’s becoming a young man’s game, with no other commitments other than hurling.
“Paul is a married man with a baby girl and to do what he has done in the last couple of years is amazing.”
Cummins has an abiding memory of Curran from the 2011 All-Ireland final against Kilkenny.
After the ball bypassed the goalkeeper and Kilkenny’s Eoin Larkin, Curran was calmness personified underneath his own crossbar, lifting the ball and bringing it to safety.
Cummins smiled: “Someone else might have seen it as a lost cause but he roll-lifted it facing his own goalline and broke out to the side.
“If I ever had any dodgy moments, I knew that Paul had my back. I can’t say any more of a full-back than that.
“The relationship between goalie and full-back is unique, especially with one as good as him.
“Paul demanded high standards and if I wasn’t talking enough, he’d bark back. But it’s just a sign of the way things go for players. Between myself going in 2013, Eoin in 2014 and now Paul, it’s a natural attrition that happens.
“It’s another link broken in the chain but it will also show the dressing room left that a hurling career is very fickle. It comes and goes in the blink of an eye and you must appreciate the time that you have in there. It doesn’t last forever and it’s another stepping stone in the education of the younger lads that won All-Irelands in 2010. It doesn’t last forever so make the most of it.”
Tipperary boss Eamon O’Shea said Curran had been “a leader and inspiration for a generation of Tipperary hurlers”
O’Shea added: “His contribution to Tipperary hurling has been immense. Many great players have retired from the game in recent years, but he is amongst the very best in terms of his own personal achievements and his contribution to various Tipperary successes. More importantly, he has been the driving force for excellence and improved performance within the Tipperary squad. He is a man of ambition, resilience and integrity who has been a major force for good within the Tipperary squad for a long time. When he came into training last night to tell the players about his decision to retire it was an emotional time for all of us. His parting words to the squad were as inspirational as his many deeds on the pitch over the past 15 years. I have no doubt that Paul will make many more contributions off the pitch to Tipperary hurling in the coming years.”
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