Their journeys were always intertwined. Joy for one generally meant despair for the other. Never more than when a very harsh dose of red mist for one denied him and his colleagues hurling immortality. To the greatest benefit of the adversary with whom the stage will be divided for the remainder of what you take in hereafter. Richie Hogan and Seamus Callanan. So it was probably fitting that they took their leave of the biggest stage in Irish sport within days of each other.
Richie departs with seven All Ireland medals. Seamus has three comparable souvenirs tucked away. Both received the Hurler of the Year gong. Both were examples of the fact players from (relatively) small clubs can make it to and at the highest level. And lastly, cruelly, in both cases, the twilight zone of both stellar careers were ravaged by a succession of debilitating injuries.
Which, despite all the success both men have garnered, brought about departures that, to me at least, were surprising because it would have been contended that both men still had plenty to offer.
Especially in a scenario where both Derek Lyng and Liam Cahill appear to be on the cusp of building formiddable looking new teams. Still though, you could hardly blame either man for wanting to exit on their own terms after jobs well done.
However, it is not being fanciful to suggest that the entire game of hurling will miss the two departing warriors. Every sport needs its icons and if there are two of them competing to a level which morphs into a rivalry all the better. See Messi-Ronaldo, Taylor-Van Barneveld, Dublin-Kerry as reference
If one was to be coldly analytical, it could be argued that hurling has – to a degree at least – moved on to another era. Wherein Limerick and Kilkenny and Clare have got themselves a nice lead on the rest of the pack.
That said, Richie and Seamus departing together would be akin to, say, Aaron Gillane and Tony Kelly doing so in (hopefully quite) a few years from now.
The man who was, so often, Tipp’s top and he who was very definitely a Top Cat will be sadly missed on our screens but there’s already a queue of other stars waiting to ascend the same plinth of greatness among a glittering galaxy of stars.