Where are they now?: Gary Hannaiffy (Former Offaly hurler)
Looking back on his inter-county career, Gary Hanniffy wonders where he found the time to play so much hurling.
Since deciding to call it a day with Offaly in 2007, he has kept busy swimming, cycling, running and of course playing club hurling with Birr. Hanniffy is based in Cork, working as an environmental regulatory manager for GlaxoSmithKline but he still travels home regularly for training and matches.
He has enjoyed a fantastic club career, winning four All-Ireland medals, six Leinster titles and 11 county championships. But, accolades aside, he loves playing for Birr and doesn't see himself retiring until they win another county title.
"We have been together as a team for so long that we have developed great friendships," he says. "I'm based in Cork but I still make it up as often as I can. For me it's great to meet up with the lads every week."
He also enjoyed success at county level, winning an All-Ireland with Offaly in 1998. The '90s were a great time for hurling, competition was at an all-time high with Wexford, Clare and Offaly all making a breakthrough.
"1998 was an unusual year for us; it was eventful, plenty of ups and downs. The win came so early in my career, I was only hurling for Offaly for a couple of years. I think if it happens at the end of your career you appreciate it a lot more, maybe because you have to make more concessions, you have to sacrifice a few more things when you are a bit older."
For two years after he retired from inter-county hurling, Hanniffy stayed away from watching his county play. After over a decade of duty he needed a break, but now, with his brother Rory playing, he has taken an interest again. Offaly are currently struggling at the bottom of Division 1 and Hanniffy feels that they have a battle ahead if they want to return to the glory days.
"We don't have a conveyor belt of young players coming through like some of the bigger counties. We don't have any really, really top-class minors. Kilkenny have three or four coming through every year but we just don't have the numbers.
"We probably have the continuous stream of quality hurlers to stay in Division 1 and be reasonably competitive; however, I don't see any hurlers coming through that will propel us up to the top. We showed last year that when things go right for us we can stick with the best teams but we always struggle to beat them."
Sunday Indo Sport