End of era as Browne calls time on 22-year career
Waterford legend Tony Browne has confirmed his retirement from inter-county hurling after an incredible 22-year career.
Browne, who will turn 41 in July, began his senior inter-county championship career in 1992. He missed the infamous 1993 Munster championship defeat to Kerry but was largely ever-present after that.
His last game was against Kilkenny in a third-round qualifier last July, when he featured as a 40-year-old substitute – a rare milestone in the modern game where the average age of a team hovers around the 25 mark.
He won four Munster championship medals, in 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2010, while his goal against Tipperary in the 2002 Munster final was the iconic moment of Waterford's breakthrough after 39 years, pushing the result beyond doubt.
He was Hurler of the Year in 1998 and was one of the few recipients in modern times not to have featured in an All-Ireland final (Dan Shanahan repeated the feat in 2007). His performance against Galway in that year's All-Ireland quarter-final was one of his most memorable.
Browne, the All-Ireland winning U-21 captain in 1992, has not been in the plans of the new Waterford management this season and the end of his great career does not come as a surprise.
He has earned the respect of colleagues and opponents for his sportsmanship, inspiration and physical fitness that allowed him to survive at the top level for so long.
One of the features of Browne's career was how he got better as the seasons rolled by. He was arguably a better player in his 30s than he was in his 20s, with the exception of 1998.
His switch from midfield to half-back during Justin McCarthy's reign gave impetus to his game and helped him to add to his All Star tally with awards in 2006 and 2007.
The Mount Sion man released a statement about his decision to retire yesterday.
"To do so is always a tough decision for any athlete but I know I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the Waterford hurling teams over the past three decades," he said.