Tipp exodus continues as Corbett steps aside

County stalwart won two All-Irelands, three All Stars and a hurler of year award

Not many players "come out of nowhere" to win two All-Irelands plus a hurler of the year award, but then Lar Corbett is no ordinary player. Now, at 34, and without too much surprise, he's called time on his senior inter-county career with Tipperary, even if the timing of it is not exactly ideal.

His decision to step aside follows closely on similar decisions by three equally experienced Tipperary hurlers: midfielders Shane McGrath and James Woodlock, and defender Conor O'Mahony.

Boots to fill

So it leaves new Tipperary manager

Michael Ryan


with some considerable boots to fill, and yet there was always going to be a period of transition after Eamon O’Shea ended his term as manager at the end of this season. Corbett, who won All-Irelands in 2001 and 2010, was always likely to join the exodus sooner rather than later.

Still, it marks the end of an era – as fellow two-time All-Ireland winner Nicky English admits. It was English who first brought Corbett into the senior set-up as Tipperary manager, in 2000, the year before he guided them to the 2001 All-Ireland title, and he admits that at the time he knew next to nothing about the then 19-year-old from Thurles.

"He really did come out of nowhere," English told The Irish Times. "And I suppose I started him off, really. I can still remember one of the first catches that he made, it must have been the Waterford Crystal Cup, which I think was played around October of 2000.

“I remember thinking after the championship ended in 2000 that we needed someone new with a bit of pace, but I hardly knew who this guy even was, to be honest. I might have only had a vague notion of him.

For real

“But that was the start of it. Because after the first time I saw him for real I said to myself that this guy is going to make it. And sure enough, he started nearly every game for us in 2001, when we went on to win the All-Ireland. And the rest is history, really. He’s been one of the great servants to Tipp over the year, and I’ll never forget that early memory.”

Corbett went on to win three successive All Stars, from 2009 to 2011 – the most deserving of which was almost certainly in 2010, when he scored a spectacular hat-trick in the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny, to win his second All-Ireland and deny Kilkenny a record fifth title in succession.

“Over the past 15 years I have enjoyed many great times playing senior hurling with Tipperary,” said Corbett, “but I have decided that now is the time to announce my retirement. It was a huge honour for me to play with Tipperary and I have many great memories and friendships from my time on the panel. Our All-Ireland winning years of 2001 and 2010 will always be special highlights, and there will be many others as well.

“I want to thank all the players with whom I played. I have huge respect for them all. I want to thank the management and backroom teams who gave me huge support. I also want to acknowledge Tipperary County Board, Tipperary Supporters Club and my club, Thurles Sarsfields, for their support.

“Playing inter-county hurling requires lots of time and commitment and I am particularly grateful to my wife, Elaine, my family, my colleagues in our business and my friends for giving me the time, opportunity and support to pursue my sporting ambitions. Finally, I want to wish Tipperary well for the future.”

Corbett also won six Munster titles and two National League titles over his 15-year career, despite never playing minor hurling for the county. He briefly retired due to work commitments in 2012, but rejoined the panel just three months later.

Some comparisons are being drawn with Kilkenny’s mass exodus at the end of the 2014 season, although for current hurler of the year TJ Reid – speaking earlier in the day at Croke Park – Tipperary’s sudden loss of experience was unexpected.


“Yeah, I’d very surprised to be honest with those retirements,” said Reid. “And ourselves, looking in, you would be thinking that there are a few more years in them. But every other county was looking at all the retirements that Kilkenny had last year and saying ‘Kilkenny might be a team who aren’t favourites for the All-Ireland’.”

Not that Kilkenny are expecting retirements this time round, with Jackie Tyrrell poised to commit again for 2016, as is Michael Fennelly.

“Jackie, I am sure he is staying on,” said Reid. “He hasn’t announced anything yet, but it is November and if he was making up his mind, he would be making it up fairly lively.

"Mick Fennelly is definitely staying on. I think we are all looking forward to getting back in January, especially myself, because I missed the whole league campaign last year because of the club, so looking forward to getting back training January and February. Our first league game is against Waterford, so looking forward to that."

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics