'Sad day' for Dubs as leader Brennan exits county stage
From the outside looking in, it's been quite the about-turn for Ger Brennan's career.
After all, it's only July since Jim Gavin stated that he expected the St Vincent's man Brennan to feature in a Dublin jersey before the summer was out.
A fortnight later, it emerged that he wasn't going to play for Dublin in 2015 but a statement released at the time insisted he would continue his rehabilitation and return to the county fold for the new campaign.
Still, those close to Brennan recognised that the longer his injury woes went on, the less likely it was that he'd be able to get back to the required fitness to play inter-county football.
After all, his troublesome achilles injury had recovered well but it had robbed him of two years of his Dublin career.
Last weekend, he put in a strong performance for St Vincent's as they powered past Ballymun in the Dublin SF championship but it wasn't enough to dissuade him from bringing the curtain down on a Dublin career that started back in 2007 and yielded two All-Ireland medals.
"Ger was a huge player for Dublin over the years," Michael Darragh Macauley reflected yesterday at the launch of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland's smart phone application to help coaches recognise and respond to a concussed player.
"He is a leader on and off the pitch, he's a big presence in the dressing room. And he's definitely one of the guys you'd look to in the heat of battle as well. He's a huge loss to Dublin.
"And he had a few long seasons with St Vincent's as well. That probably didn't do his injuries any favours.
"He was unlucky that he couldn't get them right again. It's a sad day for Dublin but knowing Ger his head is in the right place and hopefully he's happy with his decisions."
"I thought his injuries were coming on and on-track but Ger knows best, I did know there were a few hiccups along the way and he had a few ops or whatever," said Macauley, who also believes Dublin are likely to keep hold of the panel that secured last month's All-Ireland title.
"It's unfortunate he wasn't able to get the body fully right but it wasn't for a lack of effort, he gave it a lot of work and rehab to try and get himself right."
It means that Brennan's last appearance for the county came in the 2013 All-Ireland final win over Mayo.
With the game in the balance late on, he raided forward to kick a crucial late point with his weaker right foot.
A year later his absence was bemoaned when Donegal punched holes in the heart of the Dublin defence to derail their chances of retaining the All-Ireland.
He missed out on a third Celtic Cross this year but Brennan himself departs the stage with no regrets.
"It is with both satisfaction and sadness that I announce my retirement from inter-county football," he said.
"I am sufficiently satisfied that I have fulfilled my boyhood dreams to wear the Dublin senior football team jersey and to achieve success on and off the field of play.
"I also feel sadness that a particular journey of my life is coming to a close, and I will miss everything that is associated with representing my county.
"While the public might measure a team's success by the trophies raised, I feel I have won far more through the lifelong bonds and friendships I have developed with so many players and management throughout my career; and for these I am truly grateful.
"I have been fortunate to have played for Dublin every year since I was 13 years of age and it has immeasurably enhanced the quality of my life."
Dublin manager Gavin described Brennan as an "outstanding leader."
"An outstanding leader both on and off the field of play, Ger inspired those around him by his actions of self-determination, self-sacrifice and dedication to his sport - all focused on the team being the best it could be," he stated.
"An exemplary individual and gentleman; Ger's humility, poise and grace are a credit to his family, friends and club St Vincent's and Dublin GAA wish Ger the very best on his new journey."
Brennan will continue with St Vincent's as they look to defend their county title. The man Mickey Whelan once said he'd "go into the jungle with" has no intention of going away just yet.