Two of Limerick’s star hurlers Damien Reale and Donie Ryan, have announced their retirement from the inter-county game.
The former led Limerick to the 2007 All-Ireland final but later missed out a season when he refused to play under Justin McCarthy in 2009. He returned to the panel under Donal O’Grady’s tenure but he believes that now is the right time to leave the county panel as he has started a new business and does not have the time to commit to the game.
“I rang Joe Hannon, the hurling liaison officer, a couple of weeks ago and told him that I was calling it a day at inter-county level,” Reale said.
“He said fine, but that he’d get John Allen to ring me. I spoke to John for five or 10 minutes and explained my position, and that I was after starting my own company, Damien Reale Health & Safety Services Ltd.
“I would be working all over the country and just couldn’t give the commitment required. At the moment for example I’m stretched between two jobs, one in Clare, one in Wexford. I wished him and the lads all the best for the coming year. He accepted what I was saying, thanked me and told me I owed Limerick hurling nothing.”
Donie Ryan also called time on his inter-county career and Reale admits it is a sad day for both men. However,he added that he would have nothing but fond memories of his time with Limerick.
“It’s the end of the Three Amigos – Mike O’Brien, Donie Ryan and myself, who travelled together to training for years, and had serious craic in that car!” he told the Irish Examiner.
“Mike was the first of us to go, and myself and Donie decided earlier this year that this would be it, our last year. Donie too has retired. I know I retired again in 2009 when I refused to hurl under Justin, but I couldn’t finish like that which was why I went back this year.
“It’s nice now to finish on a positive note. We had a good year under Donal O’Grady, won back a lot of the ground we had lost over the last few years. You can’t stay there forever and there’s some great young talent coming through in Limerick. I got 10 great years out of it and probably my best memory, is leading the lads out in the All-Ireland final of 2007.”