Cathal Noonan/INPHO

10 players we will miss in this year's football championship

Some legends of the game have retired in the past year

THERE HAS BEEN plenty of talk about the stars who will return to the championship this summer with the likes of Colm Cooper, Tommy Walsh, Paul Galvin, Alan O’Connor and Eamon Wallace all coming back from either injury, retirement, or in Walsh’s case, a spell in Australia.

While these players will help light up our summer, there are a number of familiar faces that have stepped away from the inter-county game. We take a look at the 10 players who will be missed the most.

Stephen O’Neill – Tyrone

One of the most talented forwards of his generation, O’Neill relied on pure footballing ability rather than any outstanding physical attributes to become one of the most lethal forwards in the country. This stunning point against Kildare in the 2013 league semi final will live long in the memory.

Kevin O Reilly / YouTube

Paddy Keenan – Louth

One of the standout midfielders of the past 10 years, it is a shame Keenan retired without tasting provincial success. He was the platform on which Louth built their gameplan, and his midfield partnership with Brian White was one of the strongest in the 2010 championship when they were cruelly denied a Leinster title.

Paddy Keenan Paddy Keenan's presence in midfield will be missed Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

Declan O’Sulliavan – Kerry

There are few players who have a footballing mind anything close to O’Sullivan’s. The fact that he was able to re-invent himself as a different type of player numerous times over the course of his career proves what a talent he was. Five All-Irelands, eight Munster titles and three Allstar awards is a pretty impressive haul.

Declan O'Sullivan called time on a glittering career Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

 Benny Coulter – Down 

Possibly Down’s most gifted forward called time on his inter-county career last summer after spending 15 seasons playing with distinction for the Mourne men. He led them to the All-Ireland final in 2010 and also represented Ireland in the International Rules series five times. His talent was obvious from an early age.

AllSaintsGAA / YouTube

Johnny Doyle – Kildare

Like Stephen O’Neill, Doyle was never the bulkiest or quickest of players, but he relied on sheer footballing instinct and ability to elevate himself to being one of the game’s elite forwards. A Leinster title in 2000 was his biggest success for the Lilywhites and he captained them through numerous heartbreaking defeats towards the end of his career.

Johnny Doyle won a Leinster Championship in 2000 Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Aaron Kernan – Armagh

Kernan is the epitome of the modern wing back so when he made his debut back in 2005, he was perhaps a bit ahead of his time. A defender who was as comfortable taking scores as he was marking a man, Kernan was a joy to watch. Voted Young Footballer of the Fear in 2005, his retirement came as somewhat of a surprise. He will prove a loss to Armagh this summer.

Aaron Kernan reacts as a free is awarded against him Kernan's raids from wing back will be missed Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Seamus Kenny – Meath

A series of niggling injuries and the hands of time forced Kenny into inter-county retirement last year. A great servant for his county, he captained Meath in 2011 and 2012. The Simonstown man won two Leinster titles and a Division Two title during his tenure.

Kenny suffered numerous injuries in recent years Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Dessie Dolan – Westmeath

Another supremely gifted inside forward who stepped away from the game last summer following Westmeath’s defeat to Cavan in the qualifiers. Dolan was central to the Lake County’s Leinster championship success in 2004, en route to picking up an Allstar.

Dolan was one of the Lake county's best ever forwards Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

John Galvin – Limerick

Much like Paddy Keenan, Galvin toiled for many years in a team that wasn’t able to match his quality. Narrow defeats to Cork and Kerry in Munster and an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2011 were among his noteworthy days in the Limerick senior set up. He did captain the Treaty men to an U21 Munster title in 2000 and also won the Clare county title with his adopted club Cratloe last year.

John Galvin fending off Emmett Bolton of Kildare Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

Sean Armstrong – Galway

At only 29, Armstrong retired in December citing a loss of love for the game. His career is one that feels extremely unfulfilled given the obvious talent he possesses. A hat-trick in the All-Ireland U21 final in 2005, where Michael Meehan also scored two goals, left a county anticipating a deadly attacking duo at senior level. He never quite clicked into gear for the Tribesmen.

Armstrong never fulfilled his potential Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

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