'I was close to retiring for the last three years' - Deise veteran Browne
Tony Browne has admitted he nearly made the decision to retire from inter-county hurling at the beginning of the year.
The former hurler of the year has been in stellar form this season, scoring the late goal to snatch a draw for Waterford in the Munster final against Cork and then putting on a brilliant display in the replay.
Yet the 37-year-old had all but decided last January that he would be watching such games from the stand. "I did come close," he admits. "I had probably been saying that I was close to retiring for the last three years, to tell the truth. Definitely this year I meant it -- and I left it a little bit longer to come back.
"But I knew there was a great opportunity there as well and that was the thing that was drawing me back -- a great opportunity to reach a Munster final. I left it late and then I got involved in a programme. I did that and felt good after it and said I would go 100pc at it.
"People look at it and say once they hit 30 that it enters into their heads and think 'maybe I should retire' or 'I am getting to that age'. It boils down to the fact that there are so many sacrifices and commitments to be made. That is more of a problem in our games than being worried about your age. It is the other priorities that come into your life at that stage."
He has seen an incredible amount of change in the preparation required to operate at inter-county level. The Mount Sion legend concedes it is a bit strange to be taking the field and seeing the likes of Ken McGrath and Dan Shanahan on the bench, but insists they are doing everything they can to force themselves back into the team.
McGrath is a clubmate, but Browne is not being biased when he says the former All Star's skill-set and strength would make him a significant addition if he were to regain full fitness.
"It's odd alright sometimes to look over and not see Ken on the field. He's been unfortunate he's suffered so much with injuries over the last year really. It'd be super to get Ken back to the same fitness level that he has reached in the past.
"If we could get him right and get him back into the team, we'd definitely have a decent chance. It's strange to look around and see the lads, but the good thing about it is they're still happy to be involved and on the panel."