Henry Shefflin's wife Deirdre admitted that she only found out a week ago that his retirement was imminent.
The wife of the most decorated player to ever pick up a hurley watched with pride yesterday as her husband ended an unrivalled inter-county career.
Afterwards Deirdre Shefflin told the Irish Independent how thoughts in the household turned to his inter-county future after her husband's club, Ballyhale Shamrocks, won the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick's Day.
"Last Wednesday morning we were sitting having breakfast and I got a little inkling from him," she said. "He said: 'Maybe I've had enough'. It's something that's never happened before."
The man who won 10 All-Ireland senior hurling medals and 11 All-Star awards then took a few days to reflect on his career and the enormity of retirement.
In the Set Theatre at Langton's Hotel in Kilkenny - the scene of many a post-training meal during the 16 years Shefflin played - he addressed dozens of journalists. He revealed one of the people he discussed his retirement with was county boss Brian Cody.
Deirdre said that as the days went on last week, "he was leaning towards" retirement. "Every morning he woke up he was heading that way. He spoke to Brian on Friday, Brian was very good. He was very keen to talk to him. But Brian isn't going to make the decision for him. "He went off and reflected after his chat and spoke to a few more people."
That chat with Cody happened on Friday. By Monday the decision was made and, again, one of the first people Henry rang was Cody.
Deirdre said it would be a big change for the family. "I feel, obviously, a little bit sad. It's been a huge part of our lives. Hurling has been part of our days and part of our week. It's going to be a big change.
"Am I sad it's the end of it? Yes, I am, but I'm happy he's got what he did out of it.
"Henry is one of those guys, he likes being busy and will be busy. He'll be around that little bit more, but he'll continue with the club."
Henry, whose day job is as a Bank of Ireland sales manager, said: "Deirdre obviously would love for me still to be playing, because she really enjoys the whole thing as well."
He sent team-mates a phone message to break the news. "That for me was very sad because I wouldn't be here today, but for those lads. I've so many good memories, on and off the field of play, and I'm going to very much miss them."
Henry and Deirdre Shefflin have four children, Sadhbh (7), Henry Jnr (5), Siún (4) and Freddie (11 months), but much of yesterday's fuss was lost on the younger family members.
Henry will do some juvenile coaching with the club, as well as continuing to play with Ballyhale
"It is a bit crazy, to be honest," Henry said of the attention. "I'm an amateur GAA player and I was playing with my club Ballyhale and I'll go back there whenever we go back training."