Former top Cat Richie Power now confined to onlooker role

Classy forward has found retirement from the intercounty game difficult to deal with

Richie Power has more than a few regrets. Enough to mention from a wonderful hurling career severed by bone on bone erosion that promises a knee replacement when he's 40-odd.

“The knee itself is just a shell, there’s nothing in there.”

And still, worryingly, Power envisages hurling for Carrickshock in 2017. To give back to the club. The wonder is if hurling, the addictive drug it is, has taken enough from him.

To the manor born, before the son came Richie senior, the father who gathered two All-Ireland’s, and after him, this Sunday against Tipperary, comes the brother John.


Power believes he would still be playing if 2015 had been sacrificed. Instead medical advice and his own desire persuaded him back to play 12 minutes in the All-Ireland final.

Until yesterday, that was the last time he laced up boots. Not to hurl but the retired sportsman's lot of promotional duty for Volkswagen ahead of the All-Ireland Junior Sevens competition in St Jude's GAA club on September 3rd.

Power even says one or two of those eight All-Ireland medals would be returned for the chance to play Sunday and beyond.

“Oh God, of course I would. Obviously you would give it back. 2014 . . . the day in Tullamore. I tore the PCL, the posterior cruciate.

"That helps with the stability in the knee. Straight away there was a huge weakness in my knee. Luckily enough I got back for '14, played the club championship with my club in '14. It was the start of '15 . . . I got the operation in January and then I went out in a club game against James Stephens. Played the game. Went through it pain free.

Knee replacement

Whatever happened in that game, that’s when everything started to go downhill.”

Far too much too soon.

“I don’t know would you say it’s too high a price. Obviously like I can look back in years to come and smile and be happy about what I achieved.

“I suppose the downfall for me is I’m looking at a knee replacement probably in 10 or 15 years’ time.

“Would I change my career? I don’t think so. The success that we had. I suppose it’s a price I have to pay on a personal level.”

Hard to know what lessons can be gathered. The GAA continue to flog their thoroughbreds. It’s part of the culture.

Power’s skill coupled with physicality made him one of the best we will ever see. He’s been part of this island’s sporting consciousness since himself and Cha Fitzpatrick thrilled all as magical minors in 2002 and 2003.

By 2005 he had been promoted to officer rank in Brian Cody’s senior battalion.

But the knee curse came early; the first of six surgeries was needed age 16.

“If I had been told last January that I needed to give the leg a break for 12 months I would have done it – no matter how hard it would have been.

“I know in my own head it would have prolonged my career at club and county level. If you had to sacrifice 12 months for 12 minutes, to get an extra two or three years you’d do it.”

Does he feel hard done by that medical opinion didn’t dissuade him?

“ No, look, you can blame people if you want; personally I don’t. It would have been nice to have been given the option, if I was told: Take 12 months off, that the knee is in a bad way, of course I would have done it.

Very tough

“Having three operations in 10 months, the deterioration in the knee was a lot worse than what the specialist was expecting. I was under the impression , as was the surgeon, that he’d get me back hurling going into the operation last October. Unfortunately, after he came out of the knee, it wasn’t the case. What happened between July and October was a lot more severe than we all thought.”

Early retirement has been difficult.

“Personally, it’s been very tough to adapt to not being part of an inter-county set up and not being able to train, full stop. It kind of really hit home for the first league game down in Waterford, down in Walsh Park. I went down with Rory, my son, and I was standing on the bank and I just kind of realise that this is it.

“Your whole life is turned upside down. You’re not involved with the lads. You can’t even go back and be involved with the club team so you’re isolated from two groups of players rather than just one. That has been tough . . . “I was lucky enough to have my family around me and they were brilliant.”

Asking about Sunday’s seismic event seems almost trivial given his circumstances.


“ Brian has proven in the past that he can get the match ups right . . . if Kilkenny can stop Tipp scoring goals they might sneak it,” concludes Power.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent