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Dec Sull, Doyle, Coulter, Galvin, O'Neill and 20 other Gaelic footballers who retired in 2014

The leading footballers who bowed out this year.

2014 WAS A YEAR when we said goodbye to some outstanding Gaelic footballers from Roscommon, Kerry, Down, Kildare, Fermanagh, Westmeath, Longford, Tipperary, Meath, Tyrone, Louth, Galway, Laois and Armagh.

Here’s 22 players who brought the curtain down on their careers in 2014.

1. Karol Mannion – Roscommon

Karol Mannion celebrates scoring Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He’s still playing at a pretty high level with Roscommon kingpins St Brigid’s, but Karol Mannion announced his inter-county retirement ahead of the start of the league this year. He enjoyed a long career with the Rossies and  won a Connacht title in 2010.

2. Paul Galvin - Kerry

Paul Galvin and James McCarthy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Galvin was the last of a number of high profile departures from the Kerry camp before this year’s championship. He bowed out with three Allstars, seven Munster titles and four All-Ireland’s.

3.  Danny Hughes – Down

Danny Hughes Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 2010 Allstar retired in March having struggled to overcome a series of injuries that affected him over the past number of years. He was a key member of the Down side who came from nowhere to reach the 2010 All-Ireland final, one they narrowly lost to Cork.

 4. Johnny Doyle – Kildare

Johnny Doyle Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kildare legend Johnny Doyle rounded off a 15-season career when he  brought the curtain down on his career in April. Doyle won a Leinster title in his debut season back in 2000, while he finished as a top scorer in the 2008 and 2010 championships.

5. Barry Owens – Fermanagh

Ronan Flanagan with Barry Owens Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Two-time Allstar Barry Owens called it a day in June after Fermanagh suffered a one-point qualifer defeat to Laois. While he failed to get his hands an elusive Ulster title, Owens lined out in an All-Ireland semi-final in 2004, when they embarked on a heroic run through the qualifers with victories over Cork, Meath and Armagh. They were eventually edged out by two points to Mayo in a replay. 

6. Dessie Dolan – Westmeath

Dessie Dolan Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Another player who announced his retirement after being eliminated in this year’s qualifiers, Dessie Dolan made his decision after Westmeath’s loss to Cavan. His most memorable season also came in 2004, when the Lake County lifted the Leinster title under the tutelege of Paidi Ó Sé and the Garrycastle man picked up an Allstar.

7. Damien Sheridan – Longford

Damien Sheridan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Longford footballer Damien Sheridan bid farewell to the inter-county scene in July, having been almost ever present in the Longford goals since 1999.

8. Paul Fitzgerald – Tipperary

Paul Fitzgerald 12/7/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The 36-year-old kept goal for the Premier County’s footballers for a decade and Tipp enjoyed a fine season in 2014, securing the NFL Division 4 title and recording championship wins over Limerick, Longford and Laois, while running Cork and Galway close.

9. Seamus Kenny – Meath

Seamus Kenny 27/72013 Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

2015 will be the first year since 2000 that Kenny hasn’t been involved in the Royal County’s panel. Kenny won two Leinster’s and an NFL Division 2 title during his tenure with Meath, while he also captained them in 2011 and 2012.

10. Brendan McVeigh – Down

Brendan McVeigh

In August another Down Allstar from 2010 announced his retirement. Having made his championship debut against Tyrone in 2005, McVeigh made the county’s number one jersey his own for the following nine years.

11. Paddy Keenan – Louth

Paddy Keenan and Philip McMahon Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The outstanding Louth player of his generation, Keenan also won an Allstar in 2010, the same year his county were cruelly denied a Leinster title.

12. Aaron Kernan – Armagh

Aaron Kernan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The 2005 Young Footballer of the Year was an U21 All-Ireland champion, a four-time Ulster winner and claimed the NFL Disision 1 honours, while also enjoying unprecedented success with his club, Crossmaglen Rangers, who he will continue to represent.

13. Brian Mallon – Armagh

Paddy McGrathn and Brian Mallon Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Armagh were hit by another retirement in the space of a few days when Brian announced he was also leaving the inter-county scene. Mallon featured alongisde Kernan on Armagh’s All-Ireland U21 winning team and retires after 11 years of service to his county, where he also won four Ulster titles and an NFL title.

14. Tommy McElroy – Fermanagh

Tommy McElroy with Fergal Flanagan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Another side to suffer significant retirements was the Fermanagh footballers who, having lost legendary midfielder Barry Owens earlier in the summer, Tommy McElroy soon followed suit after ten years of service to his county.

15. Eamon Maguire – Fermanagh

Eamon Maguire, James Loughry and Patrick 8/1/2012 Source: Presseye/Andrew Paton/INPHO

Maguire followed Owens and McElory into retirement by hanging up his boots in October, as Fermanagh lost three of their most experienced campaigners. He was a key member of their side who made it all the way to an All-Ireland semi-final back in 2004.

16. Brian Meade – Meath

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A midfielder with Meath, the Rathkenny club man was an ever present during Meath’s 2010 Leinster title winning season. He also started the 2012 and 2013 provincial finals and came on as a sub in this year’s decider having recovered from a torn cruciate.

17. Eoghan Harrington – Meath

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Corner-back Harrington was also on the Meath team that won the Leinster title in 2010. The Wolfe Tones club man also started last July’s final loss to Dublin.

18. Martin Penrose – Tyrone

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A tricky and hard-working attacker, Penrose won All-Ireland senior medals in 2005 and 2008. He was a sub in 2005 but started in the 2008 decider against Kerry that Tyrone won.

19. Stephen O’Neill – Tyrone

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

One of the most decorated Tyrone footballers, O’Neill won All-Ireland medals in 2003, 2005 and 2008. He won the ‘Footballer of the Year’ award in 2005 while he claimed Allstars in 2001, 2005 and 2009. He hit 0-2 in the 2003 final win over Armagh and the 0-4 in the 2005 decider success against Kerry.

20. Brian Flanagan – Kildare

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Johnstownbridge club man Flanagan retired after struggling with a knee injury for the last two seasons. Flanagan was ever-present during Kieran McGeeney’s six-year reign with Kildare and featured in the squad reach five successive All-Ireland quarter-finals.

21. Declan O’Sullivan – Kerry

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Kerry star O’Sullivan announced his retirement last month after a glittering career. He won five senior All-Ireland titles and eight Munster championships as well three successive Allstars between 2007 and 2009. His career was crowned in September with All-Ireland success against Donegal.

22. Benny Coulter – Down

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Coulter retired last month after a brilliant career with Down where he was renowned for his goalscoring abilities. He was one of the greatest players never to win a provincial senior medal and lost out on Sam Maguire against Cork in 2010. An Allstar winner that same year, Coulter was also a regular fixture on Irish International Rules team.

23. Shane Lennon – Louth

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Lennon was one of Louth’s leading forwards before his retirement. He was part of the Wee County outfit that lost the 2010 Leinster final against Meath. In 2006 he won a Tommy Murphy Cup medal and a Division 2 football league title.

24. Sean Armstrong – Galway

Armstrong recently retired citing a loss of appetite for the inter-county game. He was the star with Micheal Meehan in Galway’s 2005 All-Ireland U21 football title win while a year later he won an All-Ireland club crown with Salthill-Knocknacarra. Armstrong won two Connacht senior medals with Galway in 2005 and 2008.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

25. Peter O’Leary – Laois

The Laois defender retired after years of service to his county. He won an All-Ireland minor medal in 2003 with the county and also won a Leinster U21 medal in 2006.

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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