Browne on brink as Mullane exit rocks Deise
Waterford have been thrown into turmoil with John Mullane's announcement that he is to retire from inter-county hurling.
With Tony Browne also on the verge of bowing out – he is due to speak with manager Michael Ryan over the weekend to discuss his future – they are facing a serious experience deficit in the season ahead.
Already, former captain Stephen Molumphy is out of the picture because of a tour of duty with the Irish Army, while injury has ruled out fellow midfielder Philip Mahony.
Privately, Ryan had been hopeful that Mullane (right), the county's top forward during a glorious run, would stay on.
Mullane (31) admitted he had considered retirement for months, since the defeat to Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final last July.
"After months of deliberation, I feel the time is right to bring the curtain down on my inter-county career," he said in a statement issued through the GPA.
"The sense of genuine pride I got from wearing the Waterford jersey and representing the county I love will live with me forever."
Mullane's departure leaves only Browne and Seamus Prendergast from the team that made the breakthrough to win the Munster title in 2002 after a 39-year spell in the wilderness.
Mullane went on to win three more Munster championship medals and claim five All Stars.
Form wasn't an issue in his decision, as he won four of those five All Stars in the last four years, a feat that not even Kilkenny's Tommy Walsh and Henry Shefflin managed across the same period.
Browne will turn 40 this summer, but his decision could well be influenced by the departure of the county's iconic forward.