Tipperary hurler Niall O’Meara announces intercounty retirement

Two-time All-Ireland winner has struggled with injuries in recent years

Tipperary All-Ireland winner Niall O’Meara has retired from intercounty hurling. In a statement released to the county GAA website he said that he had decided “the time was right”.

A winner of an All-Ireland under-21 medal in 2010, O’Meara came into the senior county team in 2014 and played in the All-Ireland final wins over Kilkenny in 2016, as a replacement, and in 2019 when he scored Tipp’s first goal as a starter.

Beset by injury, he didn’t play in the last two championships, although he recovered sufficiently to play a role in his club Kilruane McDonagh’s county title success last year. His last appearance for the county was in the 2021 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Waterford when he replaced John O’Dwyer for the last quarter.

“After some thought I’ve decided the time is right for me to retire from intercounty hurling,” he said on Friday. “For as long as I can remember I always wanted to wear the blue and gold jersey and luckily since 2010 playing on the minor hurling and football teams I had the opportunity, something I will always cherish.

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“All of this could not of been done without the support of my amazing parents Theresa and my late dad Ger. They sacrificed a lot for me to achieve at the highest level. My two brothers Mark and Brian were also there for me throughout the journey. Thank you all!

“I would like to thank all the managers who gave me the chance to represent Tipperary, specifically Eamonn O’Shea who gave me my first opportunity, it is something I will always be proud of. I want to wish the current management team and players all the best for the coming season.”

Tipperary manager Liam Cahill paid O’Meara this tribute.

“Niall exemplified the spirit of a team player, devoid of ego. He displayed remarkable versatility along with a brilliant attitude and a sharp hurling mind. Unfortunately, injuries over the last number of seasons denied us the opportunity to witness more of his exceptional talent in the Tipperary colours.

“I am certain that his outstanding qualities will enable him to make valuable contributions to Tipperary hurling in the future. I extend my heartfelt best wishes to Niall as he embarks on the next chapter of his career.”

It has been a busy week form intercounty retirements. Derry forward Benny Heron called it a day on Thursday after a career of 11 seasons, an eventful period which saw Derry plummet from the Division One final in 2014 when he played against eventual winners Dublin and then rise all the way back to the top flight with promotion earlier this year.

The 32-year old also played in the county’s back-to-back Ulster title victories of the past two seasons before deciding to retire. Derry GAA described him as “an ace finisher with an eye for goal”, going on to say, “Benny Heron matched talent with an utterly selfless attitude and was one of the most respected footballers in Derry over the past decade.

“The summer of 2022 will be remembered fondly by all Derry supporters with the county claiming its first Ulster title after a 24-year wait. It was a summer when Ballinascreen’s Heron dazzled, becoming a hero to the red and white masses on the streets and terraces of Ulster and around Croke Park.”

On the same day, it was announced that Seán Power had stepped down as manager of the Waterford camogie team, whom he led in July to a first All-Ireland final in 78 years. After a memorable one-point defeat of Tipperary in the semi-final, Waterford were beaten by Cork in the final.

He is reportedly leaving the position for family reasons and his successor is expected to be named next week.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times