Ballyboden St Enda’s Stephen Hiney officially called time on his inter-county career last Thursday, ending a largely successful 13 year period with the Dublin hurling team.
Hiney, who won the Leinster title with the Dubs in 2013 with a win over Galway, was key to their hurling renaissance under Anthony Daly. He described playing for his county as a great honour, but does regret never reaching an All-Ireland final with the capital.
In his statement, the half-back said: “Although we never managed to make the big day in September, Dublin hurling has changed dramatically from when I first joined the team. It would have been hard to imagine Dublin winning Leinster championship and National League titles 13 years ago.”
As well as those inter-county honours, Hiney has also collected senior county titles in both football and hurling with Ballyboden, but that Leinster Championship, as it should, holds special memories.
“The Leinster championship win was definitely the highlight of my career,” he said. “I was also lucky enough to have captained the team for a number of seasons which was a huge honour for me.”
The 31-year-old battled through some serious injuries throughout his career, most notably an eye-injury at 22 which threatened to end his career at such a tender age. He also missed Dublin’s league final win over Kilkenny in 2011 with a cruciate knee ligament injury which kept him sidelined for over a year. But the fighting spirit which he is renowned for saw him come back and play a key role in Dublin’s first Leinster title success since 1961.
Hiney had kind words for friends, family and his club in his retirement statement, as it read: “I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made it possible for me to play at this level for so long. Most importantly, I’d like to thank my wife Elaine, and my family who have supported me from the very beginning. I’d also like to thank my club, Ballyboden, for their support and contribution to my development as a player.”
Fellow Boden men Conal Keaney and Simon Lambert, who have been in battle with Hiney for club and county, took to Twitter, like many others, to pay tribute to their friend and team mate.
Keaney said: “Sad to see him go. What a man to play alongside #inspiration #friend. While Lambert tweeted: “The man will be missed. Great man in the dressing room and even bigger man on the pitch.”