Ireland’s coach, South African Graham Ford, recalled first meeting O’Brien in 2005, when he was coming through at Kent, and praised the “fine example” he set as a player.
“He can be well proud of what he has achieved on the field but he can be equally proud of how he has operated as a professional cricketer and the manner in which he has played the game,” Ford said. “He was an extremely tough competitor and played it very, very hard. At the same time he always showed respect for the game and the opposition. After a tough day he was always happy to have a chat and a laugh with his teammates and the opposition.
“It will be tough for Niall to walk away after so many years, but it is nice to know that he walks away having gained many special and lasting friendships from his time in the game.”
O’Brien finishes as Ireland’s most successful wicketkeeper, with 241 dismissals, and one of only four players to represent the country in 100 ODIs. In addition to his World Cup exploits, he played in four World T20s, and helped Ireland lift the ICC’s Intercontinental Cup – the main first-class competition for Associate nations – on four occasions.
“It’s always a sad time when someone who has had a great career and played such a big part in the evolution of Irish cricket goes,” Porterfield, Ireland’s Test and ODI captain, said. “Niall, along with the likes of Ed Joyce, showed what was possible at the time for young Irish cricketers, in forging a great career in the county game.”
“Alongside that he had a great international career. Niall would have been involved when we only had a couple of games a year, and I’m sure he will sit back and reflect with great pride when he sees where he has helped get Ireland to. From his Man-of-the-Match innings in the 2007 World Cup that helped put Ireland on the global map, to walking out in Ireland’s inaugural Test match.
“He can be immensely proud of that and everything else he achieved in his career and fully deserves all the plaudits I’m sure he will get. I would personally like to wish him all the very best for a successful future.”