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Should players ever come back from retirement? Here are 11 GAA stars who did

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Paul Galvin returned to the Kerry panel this week after 13 months in the wilderness

Paul Galvin returned to the Kerry panel this week after 13 months in the wilderness

Paul Galvin returned to the Kerry panel this week after 13 months in the wilderness

If Paul Galvin's unexpected return to the Kerry panel 13 months after what appeared like the definitive last farewell is the surprise GAA story of the week, it has quickly moved on to the intriguing question: will it work?

Is he primed to be a spectacular success story in his second coming or will it peter out on the bench, having seen little action?

The adage 'they never come back" has long been part of professional boxing's wisdom lexicon and, while not always strictly true, it offers more evidence for than against.

Of course, a boxer is different. He's not part of a squad, sharing the load with more than 20 others on match day, nor can he be used as a sub when the fearsome pace and intensity of a contest has subsided.

Team sports offer that option and with the emphasis very much on squad strength rather than starting selections nowadays, it's possible to accommodate players in a range of capacities.

Successful comeback stories are relatively common in the GAA, not least in Kerry where Michael McCarthy and Eoin Brosnan slotted in well after coming out of retirement.

So too have some others across the country. However, in the case of the more successful ones they were younger than Galvin (35).

Still, he has always been a man who challenges accepted conventions, which adds a fascinating dimension to his latest challenge. Here is how some other comeback stories ended.

Jimmy Keaveney

(Dublin)

Retired: 1973

Returned: 1974

Age on return: 29

Why: Asked back by Kevin Heffernan, who was in his first year as Dublin manager. 'Heffo' recognised that his St Vincent's clubmate still had much offer, not only as a consistently accurate free-taker but also as an opportunist finisher from open play. Keaveney returned to the panel after the first round of the 1974 Leinster championship.

Did it work? The most successful comeback of all, Keaveney won three All-Ireland titles in four seasons (1974-76-77) and took the Footballer of the Year award in 1976-77. He played on with Dublin until the end of the 1979 season, by which time he had won six successive Leinster senior titles

Brian Corcoran

(Cork)

Retired: 2001

Returned: 2004

Age on return: 30

Why: "On those nights (mingling with the Cork players in the CityWest Hotel after they had lost the 2003 All-Ireland final and meeting them again in Cork train station when they returned the following night) back around the guys I soldiered with in 1999 and mixing with the young guns like Setanta (O hAilpin) and John Gardiner, something inside me stirred. It was as surreal as it was sudden," wrote Corcoran in 2006. He had to come back after that.

Did it work? Yes. He won All-Ireland medals at full-forward in 2004 and 2005, having been a defender for most of his career.

Michael McCarthy

(Kerry)

Retired: 2006

Returned: 2009

Age on return: 31

Why: He was playing well for his club; Kerry had lost the 2009 Munster semi-final to Cork by eight points in June and manager Jack O'Connor reckoned McCarthy, who had won three All-Ireland medals in the full-back line, could play a significant role in re-launching the season, via the qualifiers. However, O'Connor decided that the second coming should be as a half-back.

Did it work? By September 2009, Kerry were All-Ireland champions. McCarthy retired for the second time after the 2010 championship.

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The last Cork captain to lift the Sam Maguire, Larry Tompkins, believes the current Rebels squad is under major pressure to deliver on their great potential.

The last Cork captain to lift the Sam Maguire, Larry Tompkins, believes the current Rebels squad is under major pressure to deliver on their great potential.

The last Cork captain to lift the Sam Maguire, Larry Tompkins, believes the current Rebels squad is under major pressure to deliver on their great potential.

 

Larry Tompkins

(Cork)

Retired: 1995

Returned: 1998

Age on return: 35

Why: He took over as Cork manager in late 1996 and by the summer of 1998 he felt he was playing well enough to play against Kerry in the Munster semi-final.

Did it work? He played quite well against Kerry, who were defending All-Ireland champions, but Cork lost by three points. It was his sole outing as player-manager. He continued as team manager until 2003.

Eoin 'Bomber' Liston

(Kerry)

Retired: 1990

Returned: 1993

Age on return: 35

Why: Kerry had won only one of the previous six Munster titles and manager Ogie Moran felt that his Beale clubmate was playing well enough to make an impact.

Did it work? Cork beat Kerry in the Munster semi-final. With no All-Ireland qualifiers at that time, it was the last outing of his comeback.

John Connolly

(Galway)

Retired: 1980

Returned: 1981

Age on return: 33

Why: Galway, the 1980 All-Ireland champions, scored only 1-8 in the 1981 All-Ireland semi-final clash with Limerick but managed to draw. Manager Cyril Farrell pressed Connolly, who had made his senior debut with Galway 14 years earlier, back into service.

Did it work? Galway beat Limerick in the replay but lost the final to Offaly. Connolly had a severe bout of tonsillitis in the run-up to the final. It was his last game for Galway.

Eoin Brosnan

(Kerry)

Retired: 2009

Returned: 2011

Age on return: 31

Why: He enjoyed an excellent year with his club Dr Crokes in 2010 and was invited back on the panel by Jack O'Connor for 2011 and re-positioned as a half-back after playing in attack up to 2009.

Did it work? He didn't add to his All-Ireland haul but did well in his new role before retiring for a second time at the end of 2013.

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Graham Geraghty playing for Meath in 2012.

Graham Geraghty playing for Meath in 2012.

SPORTSFILE

Graham Geraghty playing for Meath in 2012.

 

Graham Geraghty

(Meath)

Retired: 2008

Returned: 2011

Age on return: 38

Why: He was playing well for his club and Seamus McEnaney, the then Meath manager, thought his experience could be invaluable to the Meath team.

Did it work? He came on as sub in the 2011 Leinster quarter-final against Kildare and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed at a crucial time. Meath eventually lost by six points. Geraghty suffered an Achilles tendon injury shortly afterwards.

Kevin Cassidy

(Donegal)

Retired: 2010

Returned: 2011

Age on return: 28

Why: Jim McGuinness took over as manager at the start of the 2011 season and persuaded Cassidy, who had quit after Donegal's exit from the 2010 championship, to return.

Did it work? He was a key part of Donegal's re-launch in 2011, winning an Ulster medal and an All Star award. A falling-out with McGuinness over a contribution to a book led to the end of his inter-county career in late 2011. Donegal were All-Ireland champions by the following September.

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DJ Carey, Kilkenny. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

DJ Carey, Kilkenny. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

DJ Carey, Kilkenny. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

 

DJ Carey

(Kilkenny)

Retired: 1998 (February)

Returned: 1998 (April)

Age on return: 27

Why: One of the shortest retirements it history, it lasted just two months. He announced his departure because of a range of stresses which accompanied the tag of being the country's best hurler at the time but quickly realised that he missed the game far too much to stay away.

Did it work? Two more All-Ireland titles, three more All Star awards and a second Hurler of the Year award provide the answer. He played on until the end of 2005.

Lar Corbett

(Tipperary)

Retired: 2012 (February)

Returned: 2012 (May)

Age on return: 31

Why: Another very short retirement, the announcement of his departure stunned the Premier county and the hurling world. It was always likely that after a period of reflection, he would return.

Did it work? He's still aboard and seeking a third All-Ireland medal with Eamon O'Shea's team.

Irish Independent