STEPHEN HINEY (above) may have departed the Dublin dressing-room he occupied for 13 seasons, but he still has a massive role to play at Ballyboden St Enda's.
So says his former club manager Liam Hogan, who reckons the 31-year-old defender will set an inspiring example for the latest crop of emerging hurling talent on the Firhouse Road.
"We've a lot of young lads in Ballyboden, a decent U21 team, and those guys will need him as a role model. He's still a young guy, with a lot of club years ahead of him," Hogan told The Herald.
The Offaly native managed the 'Boden seniors for seven seasons, a golden era crowned by five consecutive Dublin SHC titles between 2007 and '11. "Stephen Hiney was one of those senior players who made a beeline for the younger players, took them under his wing and guided them," he recalled.
"I'd say he has a good few years left in him, but I know that Stephen has huge work commitments and that may have inspired his decision. For 'Boden he has always been a massive, massive man, both on and off the pitch."
Hogan highlighted the player's leadership qualities and resolute determination to overcome career-threatening injuries, adding: "He set the standards that everyone else had to aspire to."
Anthony Daly touched on similar themes when joining the chorus of praise for Hiney.
He was his first captain on becoming Dublin manager, six years ago, and reminded Daly of one of his former Clare teammates, Brian Lohan: Hiney was no rabble-rouser but his utterances commanded respect.
"When he spoke, a bit like Lohan, everyone would listen. That was his modus operandi - 'Do as you do rather than do as you say'," Daly recounted.
"We gave him two massive jobs this year: mark TJ Reid in the Leinster final and mark Noel McGrath (in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Tipperary) .. he was a fantastic man-marker, sticky. Give him a job to do and he's do it."