How do you make the call on announcing your retirement from inter-county hurling?
Moreso, how do you do it when you’re playing with Kilkenny, you’ve just helped your club to a fourth senior county title in a row, and you were the last man to lift the Liam McCarthy cup wearing black and amber.
For Joey Holden, it turns out, it was fairly straightforward.
The fullback announced his inter-county retirement earlier this month, having debuted for Kilkenny against Clare in 2014.
Twelve months later and Holden was starting as captain, Shamrocks having won the senior grade in Kilkenny the season previous.
A few Leinster titles, league wins, All-Stars and All-Ireland’s later, Holden’s focus has shifted to the club game for the foreseeable.
“It was something I nearly wanted to get out of the way”, Holden told Scoreline, “to say thank you for the opportunity.”
“During the county final, I knew it had to happen that week and it was just a matter of making the call.”
“Brian was very good with it all, just said thanks, I said thanks to him and it was quick and short.”
“I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. He has a panel of 40 lads to look after for the coming year and that’s his job, his focus for the coming year.”
Holden wasn’t the only departure this month as clubmate Colin Fennelly confirmed his own inter-county retirement having opted out of selection for 2021.
With young guns on the rise and older players (read early thirties) ready to call it a day, Holden says for Kilkenny to return to All-Ireland glory, wanting the title isn’t going to be enough.
“There’s definitely a want to get back there but you have to be realistic”, he says, asked about the Cats prospects to bring the top prize in senior hurling back to the Noreside.
“There’s want in every county to win an All-Ireland. Look at Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Galway, Wexford. Just because we want to win an All-Ireland doesn’t mean it’s going to be given to us. You have to want it, then perform to get it, and that’s the bottom line.”
“We haven’t gotten there in a number of years but hopefully that will change.”
How much that will change remains to be seen though with club competitions continuing through to the new year and the possibility of Walsh Cup hurling on the horizon pre-league, we may yet see more new faces among the Cats in 2022.
You can hear the full interview with Joey Holden as part of this week’s Scoreline Extra podcast, now streaming.