Following Paul Flynn’s lead, the inter-county retirements of his friend Dave Bennett and Tom Feeney scarcely made for earth-shattering news.
You can’t expect fellas to put in 150-odd training sessions a year and not get a game. Being on the bench is one thing; being the 29th/30th man is a lot like making up the numbers.
At least, like Flynn, they had the dubious distinction of playing (as subs) in an All-Ireland Final, even if it must have been a surreal experience when they eventually got there. Some observers might consider the two lads mere journeymen, but they were important players with Waterford over a crucial period. And it’s harder to be loyal for so long when you’re not getting much of a look-in. Now 34, Feeney has been around the senior set-up since the early ’90s; Bennett, 31, for a few years less. As Eamon Dunphy might say, both have been good hurlers, not great ones. But great clubmen with Ballyduff Upper and Lismore respectively. Local heroes, actually.
To paraphrase what a supposed Statesman once said on leaving the stage, they did Waterford some service, and then some – above and beyond the call of duty. And when they’re old they’ll have the medals (three Munsters and a League each), not to mention the memories, to prove it.