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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Farewell - 28 inter-county footballers who called it a day in 2017

Some big names bowed out over the last twelve months.

pjimage (5) O'Mahony, Dillon, Lacey and Bastick all bowed out this year. Source: INPHO

2017 SAW SOME well-known Gaelic footballers depart the inter-county arena.

Now is the chance to salute those that moved into retirement over the past year.

1. Adrian Reid (Louth – Mattock Rangers)

Reid retired in November after starting out his Louth senior career in 2008. Over the course of 10 seasons he made 116 appearances for the county’s senior football sides.

A member of the 2010 Leinster final side, he won the O’Byrne Cup with Louth in 2009 and the Division 4 league title in 2016.

Padraig Rath and Adrian Reid lift the cup Adrian Reid lifts the Division 4 league trophy in 2016 with Padraig Rath. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

2. Aidan O’Mahony (Kerry – Rathmore)

With five All-Ireland senior medals to his credit, O’Mahony retired last January. The Kerry defensive anchor made 70 championship appearances for the Kingdom.

Aidan O'Mahony celebrates at the final whistle Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Rathmore man was an All-Star winner in 2006 and 2007. A tough and combative defender, he also secured eight Munster SFC medals during his career and was part of three triumphant National League teams.

3. Alan Dillon (Mayo – Ballintubber)

After 134 appearances in the green and red jersey, Dillon hung up his inter-county boots in late November. He didn’t manage to land the coveted All-Ireland medal but yielded quite the haul in Connacht – eight senior, two U21 and two minor – during his playing days.

Alan Dillon celebrates at the final whistle Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The Ballintubber man was a major creative force in the Mayo half-forward line with his stellar showings in 2006 and 2012 recognised with All-Star awards.

4. Alan O’Connor (Cork – St Colum’s)

The midfield warrior’s departure was a low-key one, confirmed by new Cork boss Ronan McCarthy in October. He had previously retired in 2013 before returning to their squad in 2015 to become a key figure again.

Alan O'Connor celebrates with the Sam Maguire cup Source: Cathal Noonan

O’Connor’s crowning glory came in 2010 when he played such a central part in Cork’s All-Ireland success.

5. Brian Darby (Offaly – Rhode)

One of Offaly’s longest-serving players, Darby spent ten seasons in senior football action for the Faithful county. He started out back in 2008 and was also the captain of the side for two years.

Brian Darby with a young fan Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

Darby was part of the Division 4 league winning side in 2015 and he made 86 competitive appearances for Offaly during his career.

6. Bryan Sheehan (Kerry – St Mary’s)

Sheehan was one of the finest free-takers in the game, showcasing his skill frequently at club and inter-county level. He started out as a goalkeeper at minor level before becoming an outfield regular for the Kingdom.

Bryan Sheehan with the cup Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

His senior honours list included five All-Ireland titles and nine Munster crowns, while he won an All-Star in 2011 after a superb campaign. The St Mary’s man also captained Kerry in 2016.

7. Ciaran McDonald (Tipperary – Aherlow)

Injury forced the leading Tipperary football defender to retire recently. He made his championship debut for the county in 2008 and forged a reputation as one of the best man-markers in the country.

Anthony Maher and Colm Cooper tackle Ciaran McDonald Aherlow man Ciaran McDonald pictured in action against Kerry. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

McDonald captained Tipperary to win their first Munster U21 title in 2010 and toured Australia with the Irish International Rules squad in 2014. He won two league medals with Tipperary with a Division 3 success in 2009 and a Division 4 victory in 2014.

8. Ciaran McKeever (Armagh – Cullyhanna)

After 14 years of senior inter-county football with Armagh, McKeever hung up his boots in August. McKeever captained Armagh to All-Ireland U21 glory in 2004 before helping the senior side to league success the following year.

His last appearance came in the All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Tyrone this year when he was brought on as a substitute.

Kieran McGeeney and Ciaran McKeever Ciaran McKeever celebrates Armagh's win over Kildare last July with manager Kieran McGeeney. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

9. Christy Toye (Donegal – St Michael’s)

Toye slipped away in January after 15 years soldiering for the Donegal football cause. The Creeslough man had the distinction of scoring more championship goals for his county than any other Donegal man.

He holds three Ulster titles, an All-Ireland from 2012 and a National league honour from 2007.

Christy Toye Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

10. Colm Cooper (Kerry – Dr Crokes)

After a glittering career, the news of Cooper’s retirement was confirmed in April. He started out in 2002 before his final appearance came in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.

Colm Cooper lifts the Sam Maguire cup Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The array of honours he achieved spoke volumes for his contribution to Kerry football. Five times he got his hands on Sam Maguire, nine times he was part of county sides that reigned in Munster and eight times he was recognised with All-Star awards.


11. David Walsh (Donegal – Naomh Bríd)

Walsh was part of a group of Donegal players that it was revealed in January had retired. The Naomh Bríd forward featured off the bench in the 2012 All-Ireland final success against Mayo and also was part of three Ulster senior final victories.

David Walsh Source: James Crombie/INPHO

12. Denis Bastick (Dublin – Templeogue Synge Street)

Bastick started out with the county in 2005 and made his senior championship debut in 2009. But despite his late development, he enjoyed a hugely successful career with Dublin as he was part of five All-Ireland senior successes.

Denis Bastick and his son Aiden Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The midfielder started in Dublin’s 2011 and 2015 All-Ireland final wins while coming on as a substitute in the 2013 and 2016 deciders against Mayo.

13. Denis Glennon (Westmeath – Tyrrellspass)

The last link to Westmeath’s 2004 Leinster-winning team called it a day in late October. The Tyrrellspass clubman made his senior debut in 2004 and the side went on to win their only Leinster senior football title that year.

He captained the Lake County in 2011, and also has Division 2 and 4 league titles under his belt in the maroon jersey.

Denis Glennon celebrates at the end of the game Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

14. Emmet Bolton (Kildare – Eadestown)

A Lilywhite stalwart, Bolton was a key member of the county’s fortunes since making his senior debut in 2007. He earned an All-Star nomination in 2011, and was named on the 2010 GPA Team of the Year following a season where they narrowly lost out to Down in an All-Ireland semi-final.

Emmet Bolton celebrates his goal Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Bolton also represented Ireland in the 2011 International series.

15. Finian Hanley (Galway – Salthill Knocknacarra)

The defender brought the curtain down on his county career in December. An All-Ireland U21 winner in 2005, Hanley went on to feature frequently in defence for the senior side.

He was part of Connacht senior football triumphs with Galway in 2005, 2008 and 2016. In addition Hanley lined out for the Irish International Rules side and won an All-Ireland senior club medal with Salthill-Knocknacarra in 2006.

16. Joe McMahon (Tyrone – Omagh St Enda’s)

In May, McMahon was forced to bring the curtain down on his career with Tyrone after a series of injury setbacks. He made his debut back in 2004 before last featuring in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final reversal at the hands of Kerry.

Joe McMahon Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

His greatest moments were against the Kingdom in the 2005 and 2008 final wins, while he enjoyed four days of glory in Ulster senior finals.

17. Joe Hayes (Clare – Lissycasey)

A highly experienced operator for the Banner, the news of Hayes retiring arrived in November. The 35-year-old had been hampered by a long-standing hip injury.

Joe Hayes Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Lissycasey club man first linked up with the Clare panel in 2001 before then rejoining the squad in 2005. In recent seasons he enjoyed greater success with Clare as they claimed Division 4 league promotion in 2014, lifted the Division 3 league crown in 2016 with victory in Kildare and contested the 2016 All-Ireland quarter-finals.

18. Justin McMahon (Tyrone – Omagh St Enda’s)

Full-back on the Tyrone team that swept to All-Ireland glory in 2008, McMahon called time on his inter-county career in September. He made his last appearance in this year’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Armagh.

Justin McMahon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The defensive lynchpin was part of five Ulster senior triumphs while in 2008 he lined out for Ireland in the International Rules and was an All-Star winner.

19. Karl Lacey (Donegal – Four Masters)

The 2012 Footballer of the Year hung up his boots in late August. That individual honour demonstrated his stunning form in Donegal’s All-Ireland winning campaign.

Karl Lacey celebrates after the game Source: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

He made his debut back in 2004 against Antrim and shone consistently over his 14-season career for Donegal. Lacey finished up with four All-Star awards and was part of two International Rules series.

20. Ken O’Halloran (Cork – Bishopstown)

The Rebel netminder hung up his boots in mid December after a Cork senior career that started out with a league debut in 2010 and a championship debut in 2013.

Ken O'Halloran celebrates Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He won an All-Ireland senior medal in 2010 as understudy to Alan Quirke while also being part of three National League triumphs. Before that O’Halloran was a key figure in goal in Cork’s 2007 All-Ireland U21 success.

21. Mark Poland (Down – Longstone)

A central figure in Down’s march to the 2010 All-Ireland senior football final, Poland called it a day in mid-November.

Mark Poland Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

He spent 13 seasons in action for the Mourne County, featured in a couple of Ulster deciders before suffering disappointment and made his last outing in July’s qualifier defeat to Monaghan.

22. Michael Meehan (Galway – Caltra)

The gifted Galway attacker retired recently and this looks to be a final decision after he had made a comeback last March three years after he had hung up his boots due to a troublesome ankle injury.

Michael Meehan celebrates his goal with Matthew Clancy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Meehan’s superb potential was flagged from a young age when he won the Hogan Cup with St Jarlath’s in 2002 and an All-Ireland senior club title in 2004 with Caltra. He was a key part of Galway’s All-Ireland U21 victories in 2002 and 2005 while also claiming three Connacht senior football medals.

Injury prevented Meehan from scaling the heights more often but there was some magical moments like his 0-10 haul in the Croke Park rain against Kerry in 2008.

23. Neil Gallagher (Donegal – Glenswilly)

In February Gallagher became the latest member of the victorious 2012 Donegal side to retire. He had been hit hard by injury travails over the past few years.

Neil Gallagher lifts the Sam Maguire cup Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Gallagher was a vital figure for his county with his midfield displays, ending the 2012 and 2014 seasons with All-Star awards.

24. Niall McNamee (Offaly – Rhode)

McNamee was long regarded as one of the best sharpshooters from the lower-tier counties. He lined out 132 times for his county at senior before calling time in August on his career.

Niall McNamee Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The Rhode man represented Ireland in the 2010 International Rule series and was also nominated for an All-Star in 2006 when Offaly reached the Leinster final against Dublin.

25. Patrick Kelly (Cork – Ballincollig)

A brilliant playmaker for the Cork footballers, Kelly retired in early January. Injuries had been a huge source of frustration for him over the past few years.

Patrick Kelly and the Cork players celebrate Source: Cathal Noonan

He was called up to the Cork senior squad in February 2008 and became a crucial part of their side. The Ballincollig man picked up eight major senior honours for Cork, most notably with that 2010 All-Ireland victory.

26. PJ Banville (Wexford – Horeswood)

Corner-forward Banville had been a regular on the Model County team for over 13 years. He was central to Wexford’s marvellous run in 2008 when they reached the All-Ireland semi-final.

The Horeswood man won a Division 3 football league medal with Wexford and also lined out for New York in the 2015 Connacht senior football championship.

PJ Banville celebrates scoring Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

27. Rory Kavanagh (Donegal – St Eunan’s)

Kavanagh was a brilliant campaigner for Donegal for several seasons. The St Eunan’s man was midfield on the 2012 All-Ireland senior winning team.

He retired in January 2015 before making a u-turn twelve months later and rejoining Rory Gallagher’s squad for the 2016 season. That would prove to be his last campaign involved with Donegal as he retired for a second time early this year.

Rory Kavanagh celebrates Source: James Crombie/INPHO

28 Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone – Moy)

The 2008 Footballer of the Year brought his involvement with Tyrone to a close in the wake of their loss to Dublin in August. He had flagged that this would be his last senior campaign with the county.

Sean Cavanagh lifts The Anglo Celt Cup Source: Presseye/Andrew Paton/INPHO

Cavanagh holds the highest number of appearances for an outfield player with 89, one ahead of Kerry brothers Tomas Ó Sé and Marc Ó Sé. The 34-year-old lifted the Sam Maguire three times and won five All-Star awards.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Quiz: Do you know what county these 2017 Gaelic football club winners are from?

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