Wednesday 25 April 2018

McKeever calls time after 14-year Armagh career

McKeever revealed that he came close to quitting before the start of this season. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
McKeever revealed that he came close to quitting before the start of this season. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney will have to plan for the 2018 season without his most experienced player after Ciarán McKeever announced his retirement from inter-county football.

The Cullyhanna clubman has called time on his days in the Armagh jersey after a 14-year senior career that yielded four Ulster SFC titles, a Division 1 league title in 2005 along with Division 2 (2010), Division 3 (2015) crowns. The 34-year-old was also a regular in Irish International Rules teams, facing the Australians on four occasions.

McKeever revealed that he came close to quitting before the start of this season that saw the Orchard men progress to the last eight through the qualifier route. And he stated that he walked away from the county set up with a "heavy heart".

"It was always my dream to represent Armagh growing up so it's with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from inter-county football today," McKeever said in a statement released through the GPA.

"It has been a great honour to have been part of the Armagh squad from 2003-2017, as captain for six of those years, and this is not a decision I have arrived at lightly.

"Having met with Kieran McGeeney at the end of 2016 after undergoing two operations, I was unsure of my inter-county future but we decided to try and get the body right for one more year and I believe the time is now right to call it a day."

McKeever was best known as a defender but more recently had been used as a target man at full-forward.

And he singled out captaining Armagh to an All-Ireland U-21 title as "special".

"My journey as a county player has been truly wonderful - it has been a privilege to have been involved with such an incredible group of footballers and I am very fortunate to have tasted the ultimate success at international, provincial and county level and captaining Armagh's U-21s to All-Ireland success in 2004 was a special highlight."

"I'd like to wish Kieran and the Armagh squad all the best in 2018."

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