independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Changing of the 'old' guard

Padraic Joyce embraces his wife after Galway's defeat to Antrim in his last appearance in the maroon jersey

WITH Paraic Duffy issuing the stark warning that GAA players could head for retirement as early as 25 if their workload doesn't decrease, the association said goodbye to some of its most iconic figures in 2012.

Some of those who have departed the scene are long past that milestone.

Last summer saw the end of the careers of the likes of Sean Og O hAilpin and Padraic Joyce, two of the last decade's most iconic figures.

And while that pair and others have stepped away after glittering and lauded careers, some others have simply fallen victim to a new regime, meaning that they look like they have come to the end of the road.

Hurling

Sean Og O hAilpin (Cork)

Three All-Ireland wins, including one as captain, the question will always be asked what O hAilpin's Cork team might have won had there been no unrest on Leeside. He established himself as one of the best wing-backs of his era and after a brief absence under Denis Walsh's regime, he did at least get to retire on his own terms in 2012, having started Cork's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway in August.

John Gardiner (Cork)

Along with O hAilpin and Ronan Curran, Gardiner formed part of the best half-back line in the country in the middle part of the last decade. Gardiner spoke passionately of his exclusion from the side at the end of last season and when Jimmy Barry-Murphy announced his training panel early last month, the 29-year-old's name wasn't included, which means that at just 29 the Na Piarsaigh man's inter-county career looks to be over.

Niall McCarthy is also expected to go abroad meaning that Brian Murphy, Tom Kenny and Donal Og Cusack are the only survivors from the Cork side that started the 2005 All-Ireland final win over Galway.

Brendan Murphy (Offaly)

In explaining his decision to quit, Murphy echoed Paraic Duffy's sentiments: "The demands of the modern game are increasing all the time for inter-county hurlers. Between group training and doing work on your own, you need to be involved for four to five nights each week to keep up to championship pace." Murphy (32) was the last remaining link to the Offaly side that started the 2000 All-Ireland final.

Eoin Kelly (Waterford)

No All-Ireland for Kelly, but two All Stars and four Munster titles across 13 years represents a much better return than many Waterford hurlers. At the start of 2012, he stepped away from the county scene only to return to score a crucial goal in the Munster semi-final win over Clare. The Passage clubman was left on the bench when they exited the championship at the hands of Cork.

Brian Geary (Limerick)

Geary played in two of the teams that captured Limerick's famous U-21 three-in-a- row and enjoyed a career that spanned 45 championship appearances, including the 2007 All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny.

Treaty boss John Allen used the Monaleen clubman at centre-forward last season and he was named in an initial 40-man training squad for the 2013 campaign. However, Geary opted out at the end of last season.

Football

Eamon Fennell (Dublin)

One of the most unexpected names to appear on this list, Fennell had established himself as a regular under Pat Gilroy in his last championship campaign in charge of the Dubs.

But when new manager Jim Gavin gathered an extended squad – believed to be in the region of 50 players – Fennell was nowhere to be seen after he had been told he was surplus to requirements. It appears the St Vincent's man's Dublin career has stalled – at the very least – under Gavin's stewardship.

Padraic Joyce (Galway)

One of the best of his generation, the 35-year-old Joyce is one of the most celebrated names to depart the scene. Joyce will always be remembered for his scarcely believable display in the 2001 All-Ireland final win over Meath and his goal against Kildare in 1998 but there were several moments of brilliance in a 14-year career that yielded two All-Irelands, three All Stars and a Footballer of the Year award.

Conor Mortimer (Mayo)

Another surprise inclusion on the list and while it's hard to imagine that Mortimer's county career may be over, there has been no sign of a detente in relations out west.

He left the panel for 'personal reasons' ahead of their Connacht final win over Sligo in 2012 and is the top scorer in the county's history.

James Horan went on to lead his side to an All-Ireland final appearance and Mayo look to be moving on without the talented Shrule-Glencorrib man.

Ronan McGarrity (Mayo)

A mainstay of the Mayo team for so long, McGarrity struggled with injury in Mayo's run to the All-Ireland final. The Ballina Stephenites man was also a talented basketball player, battled testicular cancer and played in the All-Ireland finals of 2004 and '06.

Ryan McMenamin (Tyrone)

A mainstay of Tyrone's golden generation, McMenamin was part of the Tyrone side that won their breakthrough All-Ireland in 2003 and he followed that up with medals in 2005 and '08. Was considered one of the toughest defenders in the game who also regularly chipped in with scores as Mickey Harte's side helped to shake up the way sides approach Gaelic football.

Davy Harte (Tyrone)

Another member of Tyrone's breakthrough team, Harte was a regular scorer from the half-back line.

Nicholas Murphy (Cork)

One of Cork's most enduring players, Murphy brought down the curtain on his inter-county career after making his debut way back in 1997.

Murphy played in four All-Ireland finals, winning a medal in 2010 when the Rebels saw off Down while he was also a talented hurler who won an All-Ireland Intermediate medal with Cork. Four Division One league medals and six Munster titles mark him out as one of the county's most decorated players.

Seamus Scanlon (Kerry)

The long-serving midfielder racked up three All-Ireland titles and a National League medal in a career that began in 2002. Scanlon started against Cork in the championship in the summer but struggled with injury and informed Eamonn Fitzmaurice that he would not be available for 2013.

Paul Casey (Dublin)

A fixture under Paul Caffrey, Casey saw limited game time after that but picked up an All-Ireland medal in 2011.

Tomas Quinn (Dublin)

Another who was forced out of the Dublin team in recent years.

Mark Ward (Meath)

A regular for several seasons, a serious ankle injury means the Navan man is not part of Mick O'Dowd's plans.

David Gallagher (Meath)

Was coaxed out of retirement last year but the goalkeeper stepped away.

Chris O'Connor (Meath)

Not part of the current Meath set-up.

Sean O'Sullivan (Kerry)

Aborted a comeback attempt early in 2012.

Brian McGuigan (Tyrone)

Answered his county's SOS in 2012 but the publican, who made his name as one of the country's most intelligent footballers, won't feature this season.

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