Ó hAilpín leaves on his own terms
IN THE end it was inevitable but at least this time Seán Óg Ó hAilpín has brought down the curtain on his career on his own terms, announcing his retirement yesterday after some 16 years intercounty service with Cork.
At age 35, and having made his senior debut for Cork as far back as 1996, Ó hAilpín was now looking forward to “new challenges and opportunities”, having effectively come out of semi-retirement earlier this year, thanks to manager Jimmy Barry Murphy.
He didn’t, however, play in the 2011 season, as then manager Denis Walsh omitted the former dual star from his panel. Ó hAilpín’s comeback this year was always likely to be short-lived, and so ends one of the most distinctly glittering careers in GAA history.
“This time it’s for good,” he confirmed – before adding: “I always felt it was premature to end my career in 2010. It was great to get the opportunity this year to re-establish myself in the team and contribute in a meaningful way to Cork.
“As I close this chapter of my life, I look forward with enthusiasm to the new challenges and opportunities I may encounter.
“I would like to thank all the players I played with over my 16-year career. I have always taken immense pride in wearing the Cork jersey and representing the county I love. I wish the Cork team the best of luck and success in their future endeavours.
“I’d like to extend a big thank you to my coaches, managers, medical and backroom teams and all the friends I’ve made throughout my hurling career on and off the field.
“I would like to thank all of the Cork and GAA supporters around the country for their phenomenal support over the years. Particular thank you to all my family and special thanks to Siobhán.”
Ó hAilpín will be remembered, amongst many other things, for captaining Cork to their last All-Ireland hurling title in 2005.
He won three All-Ireland medals in all (1999, 2004 and 2005) along with a minor success in 1995, and under-21 honours in 1997 and 1998.
He also represented Cork in football at all levels, including in the defeat to Meath in the 1999 All-Ireland senior final, and represented Ireland in the International Rules in 2004 and 2005.
Also setting off on the retirement train is Dublin footballer Tomás Quinn, part of their All-Ireland-winning panel last year, who also captained his club St Vincent’s to an All-Ireland title in 2008, and enjoyed a decade of intercounty service with his native county.