Monday 23 October 2017

More woes for Healy as 'genius' Kelly calls time on Rebel career

Cork's Paddy Kelly officially called time on his career yesterday. Photo Sportsfile
Cork's Paddy Kelly officially called time on his career yesterday. Photo Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Paddy Kelly's retirement means that just seven of the 20 players who took to the pitch for Cork's 2010 All-Ireland SFC final win are still involved ahead of a challenging 2017.

The Ballincollig playmaker officially called time on his injury-interrupted career yesterday after informing Peadar Healy last weekend that he would not be returning to the fold ahead of their Division 2 campaign.

Kelly becomes the third player central to that success over Down seven years ago to depart the inter-county scene since Cork's disappointing 2016 season concluded with a Qualifier defeat to Donegal.

Daniel Goulding and Fintan Goold also hung up their inter-county boots but having had to deal with crippling injuries in recent years, 31-year-old Kelly's decision was not unexpected.

"This modern game doesn't suit old fellas any more! The modern game is up and down the pitch," Kelly said last summer after turning the tide when sprung from the bench in a Qualifier win over Longford, for which selector Eoin O'Neill described him as "a genius of a footballer".

After a promising underage career including three Munster minor titles in a row from '04 to '06, Kelly made his senior debut under Conor Counihan in 2008 and had established himself a regular starter a year later.

Kelly consistently pulled the strings in the Cork half-forward line with many big-game performances. Particular praise must go for his semi-final displays against Tyrone ('09) and Dublin a year later.

After putting Dublin to the sword, Cork's holy grail was claimed when they edged out Down by a point in the decider, with Kelly instrumental. But hip problems would blight his career thereafter and, with the Rebels on the slide, Kelly was often powerless to help.

Of the 17 Championship games the Rebels played in the last four years, he started just five, and didn't feature at all in another five games, as the football landscape in the county changed drastically.

Eoin Cadogan, Michael Shields, Aidan Walsh, Alan O'Connor, Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O'Connor and Colm O'Neill are the seven survivors from seven years ago but Walsh has only just returned to the football fold from the Cork hurlers while Shields was released from the squad last summer before linking up again this pre-season.

Meanwhile, as reported in yesterday's Irish Independent, Odhrán MacNiallais has confirmed that he will not be part of Rory Gallagher's plans for 2017 but insists "there was no fall-out or anything with management or players, it is just for personal reasons".

Irish Independent

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