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O'Shaughnessy calls it a day

Limerick's Andrew O'Shaughnessy has retired from inter-county hurling at the age of 26.

Citing a loss of form as the reason for his departure, he played his last game for Limerick when coming on as a sub against Laois in a Division 2 Allianz League clash last month.

The Kilmallock man made his championship debut with Limerick in a qualifier against Cork in 2002 at a time when the county were hoping that their outstanding U-21 squad, which won three successive All-Ireland titles in the opening seasons of the decade, would end the senior drought.

However, despite reaching the 2007 All-Ireland final, the big prize continued to elude Limerick. O'Shaughnessy's excellence in that campaign -- he was Limerick's top scorer on 2-46 from seven games -- earned him an All Star award at right full-forward.

The classy sharpshooter missed last year with the rest of his colleagues who opted out for the final season of Justin McCarthy's managerial term, but had returned this year under Donal O'Grady.

O'Shaughnessy's announcement follows Seamus Hickey's revelation of how difficult it was for him to walk away from inter-county hurling last year.

Hickey, Young Hurler of the Year in 2007, was also one of a host of Shannonside stars who refused to line out under former boss McCarthy.

But the arrival of O'Grady as Limerick's new manager in late September heralded a new start for Hickey and other exiled top names. In mid-October, a letter dropped through his letterbox, inviting the Murroe-Boher clubman for trials.

Hickey reflected: "When we went away, there was no guarantee for anybody who made that decision that we would ever come back.

"You had than hanging over you. Then I got the letter. That was nice, a new beginning. I went home and found the letter on the table. I had a fair idea what it was -- the county seal was on it. I was glad to see it."

This season Hickey has already pocketed a Fitzgibbon medal, at the fifth time of asking, and the immediate goal with Limerick is to reclaim the county's top-flight National League status at the expense of Clare on Saturday.

"I believe that we are a Division 1 team -- my nature believes that Limerick should be up there," he said.

"We didn't cruise through Division 2 --there were some tough patches and tough games we had to dig out, but we are where we wanted to be at the start of the year, in a Division 2 final."

Irish Independent