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Limerick All-Ireland winner Shane Dowling forced to retire at the age of 27

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Limerick's Shane Dowling has been forced to retire

Limerick's Shane Dowling has been forced to retire

SPORTSFILE

Limerick's Shane Dowling has been forced to retire

Limerick's Shane Dowling has been forced to retire from inter-county hurling due to persistent knee injuries.

The 27-year-old announced his decision this morning via social media channels.

In an open statement, Dowling said it was "with deep regret and heartbreak that I have to announce my retirement from inter-county hurling today".

He admitted: "This is a decision that I have struggled to accept, and may still struggle to accept over the coming years, given its premature nature.

"To be speaking about retirement from the game I adore, at the age of 27, us not what I ever intended or imagined, and I still hardly believe this is happening, but unfortunately I have been left with no other option.

"After three surgeries on my knee in as many years, and with the possibility of another, my knee can no longer support the demands of inter-county hurling."

Dowling's final appearance for Limerick came in last July's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kilkenny, when he came off the bench to score a brilliant goal in a narrow defeat that ended the Treaty county's reign as champions.

His injury struggles restricted Dowling, an All-Ireland club winner with Na Piarsaigh in 2016, to mostly substitute appearances in Limerick's first Liam MacCarthy triumph in 45 years in 2018, although he started two matches in the Munster round robin series against Waterford and Clare.

He shot 0-15 (13f) against the Deise in the Gaelic Grounds although easily his two most influential contributions to a glorious year for Limerick came from reserve.

Dowling scored 1-4, including a goal from a penalty, after coming on against Cork in an All-Ireland semi-final that went to extra-time.

He also claimed Limerick's third and last goal of the All-Ireland final against Galway, having replaced Gearoid Hegarty in the 56th minute.

Thanking everyone from John Allen, who brought him into the senior county setup in 2012, to coaches, family, his club, Limerick's county board and JP McManus and his family, Dowling urged his now former team mates: "Please don't ever take for granted each day that you have an opportunity to tie the laces on your boots, because God knows when it could be your last time."

"As I close this chapter of my life, which is heart-breaking for me, I am going to try and look at the positives, and fortunately for me, that are a lot of them. I have fulfilled my dreams, which was above and beyond what I ever thought was possible. I have no doubt that my obsession with the game of hurling will continue in different capacities in the months and years to come.

"If someone told me that July of 2019 would be the last time I would wear the green and white of Limerick," his statement concluded, "I would have said they were mad. But there you go, that's life, that's sport, so nail it, every chance you get."

A separate statement from the Limerick senior management, released just minutes after Dowling's, acknowledged "the tremendous contribution made by Shane (to) Limerick hurling over the past eight years".

The statement revealed management had "hoped that he would be able to make a recovery for the 2020 campaign".

Dowling played no part in Limerick's pre-covid lockdown League campaign.

They praised Dowling for his "fantastic array of skills, coupled with incredible peripheral vision, nerves of steel, creativity and a killer instinct".

"When a big moment was required Shane was a player you could depend on to produce a piece of magic. These moments of leadership are what separates the good player from the great player."

Online Editors