Door left open for Corbett


HURLING NEWS: WHILE SOURCES close to Tipperary hurling are already predicting a turnaround in Lar Corbett’s decision to quit the senior panel aged just 30 the pressure and commitment of the intercounty scene has once again come under the spotlight.

The news that Corbett had opted out “due to work and business commitments” was greeted with such surprise that inevitably rumours soon circulated that perhaps other reasons were at play. However, any falling out with manager Declan Ryan has been widely dismissed, and it seems negotiations might be under way to lure him back, with a statement from the Tipperary County Board reiterating as much: “Lar’s importance and value to the team is immeasurable and the door will remain open to him for a return to the panel if those work pressures ease.”

While it seems unlikely Corbett will return in the short term, it could be he will be persuaded to return for the championship.

It has also emerged John Mullane has opted to take a break from the Waterford panel, but has indicated he will return before the championship. The 30-year-old, who won his third consecutive All Star last year, recently got married and has only just returned from honeymoon, and although he has taken breaks before, it leaves another gap in the panel for manager Michael Ryan, who last month decided to drop fellow forward Eoin Kelly from the panel, citing lack of fitness.

The ever-increasing level of commitment required by the intercounty player is something former Tipperary player Eamon Corcoran is familiar with, as he retired at the start of the 2009 season, aged 31. “It would have been nice to go on for another year,” he said at the time, “but I think there comes a time when the training becomes harder and harder, and work-wise, it gets harder to make the commitment.”

Yesterday, Corcoran spoke of complete shock on hearing Corbett’s decision, having played alongside him as far back as the 2001 All-Ireland victory: “Lar was only coming into his own in the last two or three years. He remains in the top three forwards in the country and for anybody looking in, this wasn’t the time to go and the only reason can be work commitments. There’s no other reason why Larry would walk away because injury-wise, he’s been back on track.”

Last April, Corbett went into business with Thurles publican Kevin Coppinger and Lar Corbett’s bar at Coppinger’s was opened. Corcoran reckoned those business commitments were very real, and yet predicted Corbett might yet reverse his decision. “He really wants to get the work side of things going and he owes Tipperary nothing . . . I’m sure the door is left wide open and if he’s away for 12 months, he might miss it because I think there’s another three or four years in him if he can get the pub up and running.

“It’s tough on the management because people are posing questions. But I’ve been talking to people on the county board and players and there’s no issue there whatsoever.”

Corbett wouldn’t be the first intercounty star to reverse such a decision. In early 1998, Kilkenny’s DJ Carey made the equally surprising decision to retire from the intercounty scene, yet reversed that decision six weeks later. Cork hurler Brian Corcoran made a similar comeback, after first retiring in 2001.

However, last November, Kilkenny’s three-time All Star James “Cha” Fitzpatrick ended his intercounty career, aged 26, and there’s no sign of him returning.

The death has taken place of former Tipperary, Dublin and Toomevara hurler, Phil Shanahan, who won All-Ireland and Munster senior hurling medals with Tipperary in the three-in-a-row victories of 1949, 1950 and 1951, and also played senior hurling with Dublin in 1954 and 1955.