COLM BONNAR has been shocked that Pádraic Maher has been forced to retire – and says the Tipperary hurdles team is losing one of the greatest players to ever represent it.
Tipp fans were stunned by yesterday morning’s announcement that Maher, who will turn 33 next week, will leave the fence – club and county – after receiving medical advice about a neck injury.
Tipperary executives discovered the passing of the Thurles man through a message to their WhatsApp group, also yesterday morning, while Bonnar became aware of the situation over the weekend.
The Premier boss paid tribute to the six-time All-Star defender and said: “Our doctor is Paul Ryan, also the doctor for Thurles Sarsfields and he can confide in him and Paul. will organize whatever he needs, like all our players.
“So there was an interest there and they went deeper into it and I assume his surgeon or anyone he met advised him to give up contact sports. .
“So yeah, it happened very, very quickly.
“Obviously he can train and work there.
“But sportingly he has to give it up and it was a complete shock for him and for us.
“We just found out over the weekend that this could be something that is going on and that he has to retire due to health issues.
“It is heartbreaking for him, he has so much more to offer.
“We have seen him in the club championship and he remains a towering power in the backline for Thurles Sarsfields.
“So many players that he pocketed during that campaign and he still has a lot to give and know for himself, and that’s why it’s heartbreaking for him to have to leave. At this stage.
“If you look back over 13 years, it’s unbelievable for him.
“He’s had an amazing hurdles life that he would be very proud of. I just wish him all the best in retirement.”
WALK WITH GIANTS
Bonnar, who won two All-Irelands as a Tipperary player in 1989 and 1991, believes Maher will earn his place on any Premier County team across generations.
He added: “The team I played against won a few All-Irelands but do we have anyone of that player caliber? I do not belive that thing.
“I think he’s going to come to our team, to a lot of teams, that’s how good he is.
“He had to develop his game to a more modern style as he grew up.
“He’s a giant man to catch and blow it down the field or rush out of tackles and attack it.
“But as the game progressed, he was able to give more of a passing pass, so he had the intelligence to change his game when needed.
“If you pick the top defenders who have represented Tipperary for over 100 years, you can’t help but name him.
“He has six All-Stars, which shows how much he is valued by everyone.
“His club run, seven district medals, everything he’s done is out of this world.
“I would love him to be part of the team I was with in 1989 and 91, that’s for sure.”
Maher made his senior debut in 2009 and quickly emerged as a key figure in the team that would win the All-Ireland title in 2010.
It is the first of three All Ireland senior titles as the Prime Minister also ruled the country in 2016 and 2019.
Bonnar added: “He’s been a leader, a fighter, he’s always stood up. He is a giant man of high shadow ability.
“His strength under the high ball has always amazed me.
“I remember one of the games at full-back where he marked Henry Shefflin, and he just pulled the ball in the air to play sport.
“What a skill in the game, it’s probably one of the coolest in the game in terms of being able to go up with a series of hurdles that swing left, right and center and connect with the catch. .
“He often breaks out of those clogs and then that big, powerful chest he has to push his friends around.
“The huge role he has brought against Galway, that’s what he’s famous for and they’ve inspired his teammates.”
Maher’s retirement is also a huge disappointment for his club, Thurles Sarfields.
And for Bonnar, it makes his first year at the helm a lot more difficult – especially since Brendan Maher has left.
The Premier League kicked off their NHL Division 1 Group B campaign with Laois in Portlaoise on Saturday and Bonnar said: “You talk about those two players in a special way, you talk about leaders and warriors, you talk about them. about the inspired gameplay.
“Both of those players were extremely consistent in their performances and in the heat of battle were never found as desired.
“Yes, they are big, big boots to fill any player who is about to play. That’s where the challenge for younger players comes in.
“It would be great if there were people like Brendan and Pádraic there and educating these players and getting them on the pitch – but they will have to find their feet quickly because this tournament starts on Saturday.
“There is always a small rebuilding phase and that goes for any interdistrict team. No one can last forever.
“So yes, we are in a situation where the opportunity is going to go to some younger players.
“When the players leave, it’s an opportunity and we’ll rebuild with some newer players and they’ll have a chance on Saturday.
“Look, I wouldn’t say we’re in transition but there’s still a chance those younger players can come in, yes.”
But there is some positive news for Tipperary fans, with Bonnar confirming that another longtime stalwart, 30-year-old John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, will be returning to the team in the coming weeks, following when he got over his knee problem. he was initially removed from the county council for the tournament.
Bonnar added of two-time winner Liam MacCarthy: “The news is a bit more positive.
“He’s had minor surgery to release the fluid in his knee and a bit more rehabilitation work for it.
“We hope maybe in the next two or three weeks he will be able to get back on the pitch and start doing the necessary conditions to build the fitness needed to play at the highest level.
“Perhaps the league could come to him a little early but we hope that if all goes well for him he will be part of our board.
“I spoke to him three or four times last week and I hope he comes back if all goes well.
“Just like I was hoping for Padraic to come back but unfortunately it fell out of his hands.”
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/8299935/tipperary-colm-bonnar-paudie-maher-retiring/ Tipperary boss Colm Bonnar heaps praise on Paudie Maher saying the retirement icon would WALK into any Premier team