Dublin's 2011 All-Ireland winning captain Bryan Cullen has announced his retirement from intercounty football. The Skerries man ends his 12-year senior career in a Dublin jersey having two All-Irelands, a couple of national leagues and 10 Leinster titles. While he is relatively young to be walking away - he won't be 31 until April - Cullen packed a lot into his time in a Dublin jersey.
"I've been fortunate enough to represent Dublin at senior level since 2003 but I feel now is the time to step away. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dublin managers Tommy Lyons, Pillar Caffrey, Pat Gilroy and Jim Gavin and especially to all the Dublin players past and present that I had the pleasure of sharing the pitch with.
“I’m very lucky to have had the support of my family and my wife throughout my time with Dublin. For now, I’m looking forward to focusing on my career and playing with my club Skerries Harps over the next few years. Áth Cliath Abú.”
Having already Leinster titles at minor and under-21 level, Cullen made his senior debut under Lyons in February 2003 while still only 18. He went on to play under those four Dublin managers and won All-Irelands under the latter two. He was twice nominated for All Stars - as a forward in 2005 and as a half-back in 2006.
By the time Gilroy's side got around to ending Dublin's 16-year All-Ireland famine in 2011, Cullen was his on-field general, a deep-lying wing-forward who did the fetching and carrying for some of the more explosive forwards inside. His go-ahead point against Donegal in that year's notorious All-Ireland semi-final was crucial, putting Dublin in the lead for the first time all afternoon.
By the end of September he was lifting Sam Maguire, famously giving Copperface Jacks nightclub the mother and father of all shout-outs from the Hogan Stand steps. Married to international sprinter Ailis McSweeney, Cullen took up a role in recent years with Leinster rugby as a strength and conditioning coach in their academy.
Also stepping off the intercounty stage is Galway hurler Damien Hayes. The three-time All Star inside forward walks away just a month shy of his 33rd birthday and ends his career as Galway's all-time leading championship goalscorer.
“I’ve loved my time with Galway and don’t regret a single minute of it” said the Portumna man. “Yes, not winning an All-Ireland was unfortunate. But I see that as a disappointment, not the end of the world.
"I'm extremely proud to have won a Leinster and two National League medals, I made great friends in the Galway dressing-room and I will always back the current players to win that first All-Ireland since 1988."
Hayes was an unused sub when Galway lost the 2001 All-Ireland to Tipperary but played in deciders against Cork in 2005 and Kilkenny in 2012. He won All Stars in 2005, 2010 and 2012. He will continue to play for Portumna, with whom he has won four All-Ireland medals.