Sunday 4 December 2016

Meath footballer Kevin Reilly announces his retirement

Published 13/10/2015 | 11:47

Kevin Reilly has retired from football
Kevin Reilly has retired from football

Meath footballer Kevin Reilly has announced his retirement from the game following a succession of injuries.

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The 29-year-old full back says he made the decision because he can't bounce back from a series of injuries which includes surgery on his back, hip and Achilles tendon while he has also suffered from bulging discs, frequent hamstring, quad and hip flexor tears, broken arm, foot, nose, fingers and vertebrae, chronic tendonitis and cartilage damage in knees.

“It is with great regret and sadness that I announce my immediate retirement from inter-county football. Meath GAA has been the central part of my life for the past 11 seasons putting my own life, wife, child, work, friends and family on hold during this period," said Reilly in a statement released via the Gaelic Players Association.

“I have been fortunate enough to fulfil my boyhood dream of captaining and representing Meath at fullback, winning a Leinster SFC in 2010, representing Ireland eight times in the International Rules Series, Sigerson Cup successes with DCU and three Meath SFC titles with Navan O’Mahony’s.

“For that, I am forever grateful to all the people that gave me my chance to fulfil my hopes, dreams and aspirations of playing football at the highest level."

At just 29, Reilly felt compelled to go into detail on his reasons for hanging up the boots.

Meath captain Kevin Reilly
Meath captain Kevin Reilly

“I feel compelled to explain my reasons for retiring at 29 years old. Some might say what should have been the prime of my career. Persistent and serious injury has led me to call time on my inter-county playing days.

“This one I just cannot come back from. Three surgeries, my back, hip and Achilles tendon, bulging discs, frequent hamstring, quad and hip flexor tears, broken arm, foot, nose, fingers and vertebrae, chronic tendonitis and cartilage damage in knees, shoulders and Achilles tendons have all taken their toll on my body.

Despite a long list of serious problems, Reilly points to his hip as the reason he will not be playing the sport he loves again.

"Bt it has been the hip injury I suffered in the Leinster final of 2014 that has brought my career to a premature end.

“About 15 mins into the game I felt a sharp pain in the hip after a change of direction. Immediately I knew there was something serious up. I carried on unable to change direction for the rest of the game. The next day I went for a scan for it to reveal the start of an ongoing nightmare. A grade 2 hip flexor tear – grand, a labral cartilage tear – not so good, and chronic degeneration of the hip joint –  disaster!  

“In the following weeks I met with two hip specialists who both agreed that my time playing inter-county football was coming to an end. The first guy asked ‘How long are you playing football?’ and then followed it up with “You won’t be playing for much longer”.

“I immediately requested a second opinion. They both recommended surgery to repair the injury as much as possible and confirmed that I will need a full hip replacement in the next 5-10 years. My world had been turned upside down and inside out all in the space of two minutes."

Reilly went on to thank all those who have supported him throughout his career with the Royals.

A dejected Mickey Burke and Kevin Reilly, Meath
A dejected Mickey Burke and Kevin Reilly, Meath

“With the greatest gratitude in the world I want to sincerely thank my family, managers, selectors, fellow players and all the supporters of Meath football. In particular I want to take this opportunity to thank my father and brothers who introduced me to Gaelic football, my mother for always having my gear ready until I moved out.

"My club, Navan O'Mahony's, for not only developing my skills as a player, but for the family of people that are there supporting through thick and thin, Sean Boylan for having faith in an 18-year-old kid, Mick O'Dowd for appointing me captain and Niall Moyna for going above and beyond during my time in DCU. 

“Looking forward, I hope to continue lining out for my club but my hip will dictate how long that will be for. As of now, life will be un-paused and new opportunities await in my career, studies and family life.” 

Kevin Reilly of Meath looks for medical attention after picking up an injury playing against Kildare in the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship in June.
Kevin Reilly of Meath looks for medical attention after picking up an injury playing against Kildare in the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship in June.

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