Kerry star Declan O'Sullivan has announced his retirement from the game after admitting it would be impossible to "physically compete at the required level in 2015".
The Dromid Pearses man made the public announcement in a statement released through the Kerry County Board and retires with five senior inter-county All-Ireland titles (two as captain), eight Munster championships and three All-Stars.
His final appearance in Kerry colours proved to be the All-Ireland victory over Donegal in September.
“Today, I would like to announce my retirement from inter-county football,” the 30-year-old star said.
“It has been an incredibly difficult decision to arrive at but, after a lot of consideration, I feel now is the right time. Unfortunately, due to some long-standing injuries, it would be impossible for me to physically compete at the required level in 2015. Hopefully, after a long rest and some corrective work on my knees, I will be able to enjoy playing with my club for a number of years to come.
“It has been a huge honour for me to wear the green and gold for the past 15 years, with 13 of those at senior level. I shared this fantastic journey with incredible team-mates. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their friendship and support throughout my career.
“Being part of a group with such spirit, togetherness and toughness, during good times and bad, has been the highlight of my career. It has also been a huge honour to compete against great teams and players during this time. I have huge respect and admiration for all those players”.
Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice was keen to pay tribute to the forward who also won four county championships with divisional side South Kerry and said he will go down as one of the "truly great Kerry players".
"On behalf of the Kerry management and players I would like to congratulate Declan O’Sullivan on his retirement," Fitzmaurice said. "Páidí Ó Sé brought Declan into the squad in the summer of 2002 just after he completed his Leaving Cert and he has been ever present since."
"His honesty, the warrior like way he leads by example and his innate football ability meant his team mates loved him. He also has a stubborn streak that meant he always fought his corner obstinately, be it in an argument or to win a breaking ball that might turn a game. That obdurate part of his character meant he was never beaten and was probably the trait that endeared him most to the Kerry faithful.”
“He will go down as one of the truly great Kerry players and as well as the contribution he made to the county, he was also a great clubman with both Dromid Pearses and South Kerry as well as with his School, Coláiste na Sceilge with whom he won an All ireland Vocational title in 2000 the year the school was opened,” says O’Connor.
“He was a fantastic player, even at a very young age and one of the great Kerry forwards of all time – there’s no question about that. He had a remarkable resilience about him — he played right into November and December almost every year with Dromid and South Kerry and was a target for special attention in every game and the tougher it got, the better Declan would get!
“The way he handled himself in 2006 after losing his place on the team, the resilience he showed and the resolve to get back on the team and go on to lift the Sam Maguire was testament to his mental strength.
“One of the highlights of my career, and indeed my life, was to see him bring Sam Maguire back to Dromid and South Kerry in 2006.”