Limerick forward Shane Dowling has announced his retirement from intercounty hurling.
The 2018 All-Ireland winner has been forced to call it a day at the age of 27 due to a persistent knee injury.
In a statement on his Twitter page this morning, Dowling says being forced to halt his career at such a young age is "heart-breaking", and that he "can hardly believe this is happening".
"This is a decision I have struggled to accept, and may still struggle to accept over the coming years, given its premature nature. To be speaking about retirement from the game I adore, at the age of 27, is not what I ever intended or imagined, and I can still hardly believe this is happening, but unfortunately I have been left with no other option. After three surgeries on my knee in as many years, and with the possibility of another, my knee can no longer support the demands of intercounty hurling," he says.
"As I close this chapter of my life, which is heart-breaking for me, I am going to try look at the positives, and fortunately for me there are a lot of them. I have fulfilled my dreams which was above and beyond what I ever thought was possible. I have no doubt my obsession with hurling will continue in different capacities in the months and years to come."
I can’t believe I have to do this, but I have some memories! 💚💚 pic.twitter.com/cXfqUNY2ru
— Shane Dowling (@dowlerznap) July 2, 2020
Dowling retires as a two-time Munster title winner, and was Limerick's super-sub during their All-Ireland run in 2018, coming off the bench to score goals in both their semi-final and final wins, as they ended a 45-year wait for Liam McCarthy. He was also a National Hurling League winner with the Treaty county in 2019, as well as winning an All-Star in 2014. His final game for Limerick came in the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny where he scored a goal from the bench.
The Limerick county board have also paid tribute to the Na Piarsaigh clubman, with a statement on behalf of John Kiely and his management team.
"We thank him for all his incredible memories he has given us over the years. His unerring accuracy, free taking, penalty taking, flicks, laser passed, leadership and so much more.
"When a big moment was required Shane was a player you could depend on to produce a piece of magic. Those moments of leadership are what separates the good player from the great player."
Statement from Limerick Hurling Managemnt re Shane Dowling Retiremnet pic.twitter.com/QqXBQ0rZ52
— Limerick GAA (@LimerickCLG) July 2, 2020
While Dowling's intercounty retirement is confirmed, it remains unclear if he will be able to return to hurl at club level. He has enjoyed a decorated career with the city side Na Piarsaigh, winning 5 county senior titles, four Munster championships and All-Ireland in 2016.