FORMER Dublin manager Anthony Daly today led the tributes to Stephen Hiney (below), who has retired from inter-county hurling after 13 seasons.
"One of the hardest - I'd say the hardest - GAA player I have come across," Daly told The Herald in the wake of Hiney's announcement earlier today.
He was referencing his former skipper's granite-like determination to overcome a series of huge obstacles such as diabetes (he was diagnosed at 15), a serious eye complaint (in 2005) and then a ruptured cruciate ligament (over three years ago).
The Ballyboden St Enda's clubman man, 31, retained the Dublin captaincy following Daly's appointment in late 2008 and held the armband until suffering catastrophic knee damage against Wexford in March, 2011.
But the tenacious half-back battled back to help Dublin achieve Leinster SHC history last year - his crowning glory in Sky Blue.
"He was a fantastic leader among our group. He wasn't always the captain but he was the leader, in lots of ways. A mighty man; you couldn't meet better," Daly enthused.
In his statement, released via the Dublin GAA website, Hiney described that Leinster title win as "definitely the highlight of my career" but he believed "the time is right" to call it a day.
3SEE PAGES 62-63