DUBLIN'S Stephen Hiney has become the latest big-name player to call it a day in this winter of major hurling retirements.
The teak-tough Ballyboden defender, one of the great warriors in Dublin's recent renaissance under Anthony Daly, called time on his county career in the same week that Tipperary's Eoin Kelly bowed out.
Kilkenny have also lost four of their All-Ireland champions to retirement.
The 31-year-old said it was not a decision he had taken lightly but said he felt "the time was right."
Departing Dublin manager Daly, who made him captain when he took over in 2008, described Hiney as "the ultimate team player."
Team-mate Conal Keaney said "what a man to play alongside" and Shane Durkin said "they don't come any tougher."
Hiney played hurling and football with Ballyboden St Endas and his trademark barnstorming clearances belied the fact that he suffered a series of setbacks and injuries.
He was diagnosed as diabetic when he was just 15 and had to take insulin four times a day throughout his 13-year senior career.
When he was 22 he needed surgery on a detached retina that almost ended his sporting career and he tore a cruciate knee ligament in 2011 that kept him out for 14 months.
But he always bounced back and was there to play a key part, at wing-back, in Dublin's greatest day when they won the Leinster title in 2013.
"Although we never managed to make the big day in September, Dublin hurling has changed dramatically from when I first joined the team," he said.
"It would have been hard to imagine Dublin winning Leinster Championship and National League titles 13 years ago.
"The Leinster Championship win was definitely the highlight of my career.
"I was also lucky enough to have captained the team for a number of seasons which was a huge honour for me.
"I experienced highs and lows and endured some serious injuries along the way but, thanks to the brilliant medical staff and backroom teams, I have been fortunate enough to be able to return to the playing field on each occasion."
Hiney paid special tribute to: "Anthony Daly and his management team with whom we experienced our greatest success. Without Anthony's passion and drive, I'm sure we would not have experienced the success we did."
Hiney was part of the Ballyboden team that won five Dublin SHC titles in a row and also contested the 2007 Leinster club final.