Tony Browne takes to Championship action for the last time against Kilkenny in Semple Stadium, a ground he graced on so many epic days for Port Láirge.             | Photo: Noel Browne

Tony Browne takes to Championship action for the last time against Kilkenny in Semple Stadium, a ground he graced on so many epic days for Port Láirge. | Photo: Noel Browne

So that’s it. After 23 remarkable years of service, 65 Championship appearances, four Munster titles, three All-Stars and one Hurler of the Year award, Tony Browne has retired from inter-county hurling

I first met Tony on a trip to Inverness as part of an Irish Under-21shinty team to play Scotland. Tony had the unenviable task of marking Scottish captain Hamish McGregor, a six foot three inch giant from the highlands.

Hamish was lauded as legendary in those parts but I’m certain he never met anyone like the Browne lad from Waterford city.

Tony stuck to his marker like glue, drew blood, won man of the match and earned the respect of a nation.

This small episode on foreign soil was emblematic of a career marked with achievement and stand out performances.

Browne’s senior hurling career began all the way back in 1991, when Charles Haughey was Taoiseach, George Bush Senior resided in the White House and the Soviet Union still existed, albeit in its dying days.

It’s a lifetime ago, and longer in many instances, but in Tony Browne’s case, it’s been two decades and more very well spent.

Captaining Waterford to their only Under-21 All-Ireland title in 1992 is an honour that figures large in the Browne household, and well it should.

Waterford’s return to hurling’s top table in 1998 with League and Munster Final appearances put Tony front and centre in the limelight and the Mount Sion clubman was deservedly chosen as Hurler of the Year.

The first of four Munster senior titles arrived in 2002 for Browne in a sparkling display against Tipperary and later that year, Tony helped his club to a Munster Club title when beating Clare’s Sixmilebridge in the decider.

Three more provincial titles in 2004, 2007 and 2010 and a League medal in 2007 puts Tony Browne in a small group of Deisemen to achieve such a feat.

And when you add in Tony’s three All-Stars in 1998, 2006 and 2007 Browne is unquestionably the most decorated Waterford player of his generation.

If Tony’s achievements at inter-county level are extraordinary, well his club success isn’t too shabby either.

A total of seven senior county titles, from his first in 1994 to his latest in 2006 and a Munster club title in 2002, any one of which would be a career highlight for most club hurlers.

It’s worth noting that Tony has seven senior county titles to date as he intends to continue to hurl with Cnoc Síon and help his team mates bridge what’s now a record gap between titles.

I have many personal memories of Tony on and off the field but I would need a couple of   volumes to do justice to his illustrious career.

A senior Celtic cross may have eluded him but Tony’s contribution to hurling is no less noteworthy for this fact.

Hurling needs heroes and in Tony Browne we have one of the best.

His contribution and deeds in hurling will be spoken about and recalled for generations; just like Keane, Óg, Cheasty, Walsh and Power. Happy retirement, Tony and thanks for all the memories.

text:  Brian Flannery

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