'It has been a truly wonderful journey' - Richie Power calls time on decorated Kilkenny career
A knee injury has cut short Richie Power's Kilkenny career, but the eight-time All-Ireland winner says he will cherish the memories of his time in the Black and Amber jersey.
As exclusively revealed in The Irish independent, the 30-year-old, widely regarded as one of the most lethal forwards in the game, has been forced to call time on his 11-year inter-county career.
Following knee ligament surgery before Christmas - a sixth operation in total - his team of medical experts advised that he should end his Kilkenny career.
"Following the most recent surgery to my knee I must sadly today announce my retirement from inter county hurling," he said today.
"Disappointing though this decision is, I realise and appreciate the opportunity that I had to play alongside some of the greatest players ever to play the game of hurling and to be part of one of the greatest teams of all time all time managed by the greatest manager of all time Brian Cody."
The deadly forward made his only competitive county appearance of 2015 off the bench in the All-Ireland final as persistent injury reduced his preparations to just a handful of training sessions.
Such is the esteem he is held in by Cody, he was trusted into the action and made some valuable contributions as the Cats steamrolled Galway with a sublime second-half display.
Viewed by many as the natural successor to Henry Shefflin, various injuries hampered his progress, but his undoubted class always shone through and he will be a massive loss as they bid for three in a row.
Power admits it was a privilege to be part of such a successful part of Kilkenny's hurling history.
"It has been a truly wonderful journey and while I wouldn't choose for it to end like this I will forever cherish the memories of my time wearing the Black & Amber and I wish continued success to all who play for Kilkenny in the year and the years ahead," he added.
Power burst into the public consciousness in his teens when starring for Kilkenny's minors in their back-to-back All-Ireland wins of 2002 and '03, captaining the latter team.
Having honed his skills at the famed Kilkenny hurling nursery St Kieran's, he enjoyed a successful schools career with an excellent second-level career capped off with Croke Cup victories in 2003 and '04.
Power quickly graduated to the senior ranks, making his senior championship debut in 2005 during Kilkenny's 31-point drubbing of Offaly in the Leinster semi-final, scoring five points. He followed in his father Richie's footsteps the following season, securing his first Celtic Cross, scoring a point in the final as the Cats halted Cork's bid for a hat-trick of All-Ireland titles in a landmark victory.
Despite Kilkenny's unsuccessful drive for five in 2010, Power picked up his first All-Star at centre-forward and he followed up with a second gong a year later, this time at No 11, as they reclaimed Liam MacCarthy.
Further success followed in 2012 and despite being heavily bandaged, he started the thrilling drawn All-Ireland final against Tipperary in 2014, hitting two crucial goals before having his most memorable days in the black and amber in the subsequent replay.
He starred alongside his younger brother John, hitting 1-1 apiece, with their crucial second-half goals swinging a tight affair in favour of the Cats.