History is littered with the names of exceptional hurlers whose careers were cut short.
Joe Connolly led Galway to the promised land in 1980 after 57 years of hurt, but had to retire at the age of 27 after getting hurt in an exhibition game.
Who know if the Tribe would have won more All-Irelands in the 80s as they contested five out of six finals from 1985 to 1990 — winning two — without their leading light.
It a question as much whether the bigger loss was of Galway to Connolly, or the qualities the player would have offered to his side entering his prime years.
Richie Power won eight All-Ireland titles with his county but was dogged by knee injuries throughout his career and was forced to retire at the age of 29.
Many would describe him as Kilkenny’s most talented player of their most golden generation, and he travelled to Croatia in June 2017 to explore the possibility of stem-cell treatment to regenerate the cartilage, but didn’t get the answers he was hoping for.
Given the brilliance he displayed when hampered by persistent niggles, the question is how much more he would have done with a clean bill of health.
The same can be said of many great players, and please let us know in the comments below who else should be in the conversation.
Conor Ryan from Cratloe in Clare was a key man as the Banner won the All-Ireland in 2013, but that as to be his final game at Croke Park at the tender age of 22.
He went on to win county hurling and football titles but, by 2016, he was not feeling himself and went to have a routine blood test, where they found a serious issue with his pituitary gland.
“My energy levels were wiped, there was no adrenalin running through my body,” Ryan told Marie Crowe in 2018.
“I was always the fist-tight, teeth-clenched guy and that was gone. My body was failing; the adrenalin gland to an athlete is like petrol to a car.”
Shane Stapleton, Fintan O’Toole and Michael Verney discuss these excellent players and many more in the video above.
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