GLOWING tributes have been paid to Sean Og O hAilpin after the Cork hurling star confirmed his inter-county retirement.
The 35-year-old, one of the most recognisable and popular figures in the game, announced his decision in a statement issued through the Gaelic Players Association.
"I wish to announce my retirement from inter-county hurling," the statement read. "This time it's for good."
The Fijian-born defender -- who won three All-Irelands (1999, 2004 and 2005) and also played in an All-Ireland final (1999) with the Cork footballers -- was dropped from the county panel by Denis Walsh in 2010 which led to speculation that his career was over.
However, he was brought back into the fold at the start of this year by manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy.
O hAilpin (below) battled his way back into the starting team and started in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway in August, which proved to be his final game.
"As I close this chapter of my life, I look forward with enthusiasm to the new challenges and opportunities I may encounter," he said. "I would like to thank all the players I played with over my 16-year career."
As well as being named as the Hurler of the Year in 2004, the Na Piarsaigh clubman captained Cork to All-Ireland glory in 2005 and delivered a memorable winning speech as Gaeilge.
O'hAilpin's former team-mate Diarmuid O'Sullivan was among the first to hail his contribution to the Rebels' cause.
"Sean Og, you took us on some journey, friend, team-mate, legend," tweeted O'Sullivan. "Enjoy retirement...bhí a chuid turas ó Fiji go Corcaigh."