Sunday 4 December 2016

Just five men still standing from 2010 Leinster final

Published 09/06/2016 | 02:30

Graham Reilly of Meath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Graham Reilly of Meath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Just five of the 36 players who featured in the controversial 2010 Leinster football final between Meath and Louth are still playing inter-county football.

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The counties meet in a Leinster Championship match for the first time since that game at the weekend - they did play a 2011 qualifier - but connections between the years are now few and far between.

In six years it's quite a transformation and it's more proof of the rapid turnover of players at inter-county level as demands intensify. Graham Reilly is the only Meath survivor from the 17 players they used that day.

Anthony Moyles and Nigel Crawford were gone before Seamus McEnaney's second year had begun, while Joe Sheridan and Cian Ward had both been released prior to Mick O'Dowd's second year at the helm. Brian Meade, Eoghan Harrington and Seamus Kenny all wrapped up their inter-county careers after 2014, while Stephen Bray and Kevin Reilly called time at the end of last year. Shane O'Rourke has also had to park his inter-county career after a number of hip operations.

Two other current squad members were involved in 2010. Defender Mickey Burke played in the earlier rounds but broke a leg against Laois, while goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke was sent off against the same opponents and missed the final, his place going to current selector Brendan Murphy.

Sustained

Four of the 19 Louth players in action that day are part of the current squad - goalkeeper Neil Gallagher, Adrian Reid, Colm Judge and substitute Declan Byrne. Derek Maguire, who played in the semi-final against Westmeath and the subsequent All-Ireland fourth round qualifier against Dublin, brings their number to five.

Three of the team - Mick Fanning, John O'Brien and Brian White - went travelling after 2010 and while they returned, their involvement was not as sustained. The retirement of the county's only All-Star, Paddy Keenan, at the age of 28, was a big blow to the county. Ray and Dessie Finnegan have also stepped away in recent years.

The erosion of players, especially in Meath, since 2010 underlines the pace of change in personnel that other counties also feel.

All-Ireland finalists Down have just two of the starting 15 still involved - Mark Poland and Kevin McKernan - though Conor Maginn and Benny McArdle, who were substitutes that day, are part of Eamonn Burns' squad.

All-Ireland champions Cork fare better with Eoin Cadogan, Alan O'Connor, Paul Kerrigan, Paddy Kelly, Daniel Goulding, Donncha O'Connor and Colm O'Neill all still in the mix from the 20 players involved against Down. Michael Shields is also still available.

Irish Independent

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