Fogarty and Hogan a 'huge loss' for Cats, reveals Kilkenny selector Dempsey
Kilkenny selector Mick Dempsey has hailed the legacy of Kilkenny's latest retirees and says the influence of Brian Hogan and Aidan Fogarty will be sorely missed from the Cats dressing-room in 2015.
That pair continued the trend of high-profile exits this winter, with Tipperary's double All-Ireland winner John O'Brien also calling a halt to his playing days with the Premier men.
Hogan and Fogarty's defection from the Kilkenny squad brings to four the number of players Brian Cody will have to replace for the new campaign as they join the legendary Tommy Walsh and goalkeeper David Herity in retirement.
With 28 All-Ireland medals between them, the quartet leave a significant hole in Cody's squad in terms of experience.
However, the Kilkenny manager is hardly a stranger to rebuilding jobs.
In the wake of their 2011 Liam MacCarthy Cup success, five players decided they had enough and walked away from the county game, only for the Cats to win two of the next three All-Irelands.
"They have both been fantastic players for Kilkenny," Dempsey said of the latest retirements.
"To arrive at this decision can't have been easy and would have taken a lot of thought.
"They are exceptional players with exceptional attitude and exceptional character. They will be a huge loss to our set-up.
"They have achieved so much. They had a huge influence on our team and led by example.
"They were totally committed to the Kilkenny cause.
"Both made huge contributions and had some great games. Centre-back was obviously a very important position and Brian was excellent for us.
"And I've worked with Taggy (Fogarty) since U-21 level and he was very important for us.
"With those two gone along with Tommy and David the dressing-room is going to be a very different place."
The Cats could ship further losses, with the record-breaking Henry Shefflin undecided about his future, while there are suggestions that Michael Rice, who has struggled with injury of late, might also opt out.
However, Kilkenny's strength in depth is the envy of other counties around the country and Dempsey wants others to take their opportunity when it comes up next year.
"It will give others a chance," he said. "When Brian and Aidan came in they would have taken the jersey off someone else.
"You never know how a player will react until he's in playing Championship. The Walsh Cup and the League are one thing but the Championship is the real test.
"It's up to others now to come in and they'll know they have some big shoes to fill."
Hogan (33) famously made his debut for Kilkenny in the 2004 defeat to Wexford and didn't start again for three years. However, he captained the Cats to glory in 2011 and holds seven Celtic Crosses.
"The past decade in the black and amber jersey, have been some of the greatest times of my life," read a statement from Hogan.
"I have had the opportunity to play both with, and against, some of the finest players ever to play the game. I leave with the greatest of memories of the best of friendships."
The 32-year-old is the holder eight All-Ireland medals; his finest hour came in the 2006 All-Ireland final when he hit 1-3 from play to claim the man of the match award.
"I make this decision totally comfortable in the knowledge that now is the right time for me to move on," Fogarty said.
"Playing hurling for Kilkenny at the highest level has been exciting, enjoyable, rewarding and, at times, challenging.
"I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who have supported, encouraged or who have just been there for me during this chapter of my life."
Tipperary's O'Brien (32), won All-Ireland medals in 2001 and 2010 and appeared in both of this year's All-Ireland finals.
"It has been an honour to have represented my county at senior level since my debut in 2001," he said.
"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made it possible for me to play, most importantly my family and friends, my club Toomevara, the management and backroom teams throughout those years which are too many to mention, and also the Tipperary public."