O'Hara steps back but is still 'available'
That time of the year, with the new season often marking the end of a career, and so it seems for one of the longest serving intercounty footballers in the game, Sligo’s Eamonn O’Hara.
Naturally, O’Hara is not alone: as managers around the country continue to trim players ahead of the first competitions of the season, James Kavanagh has also opted out of the Kildare panel, while Meath have left out midfielder Mark Ward.
Sligo open their 2013 season this Sunday, with an FBD League game against Sligo IT, and O’Hara won’t be featuring, admitting himself that at age 37 he is no longer able to make the required commitment – not that he’s yet committed to retirement.
“Because of work commitments, I was just wasn’t able to commit to what Kevin Walsh was looking for,” said O’Hara, who made his Sligo debut back in 1994. “I have been away for seven of the last 12 weeks, so it was not possible for me to put in the work.
Yet to make decision
“I am keen to play – this is the first time in a long time that I am injury free – but I have still to make a decision on my long-term future. If he wants me then I’ll be available.”
Noel Maguire has also opted out for 2013, while Johnny Davey, Colm McGee and David Rooney are off the panel, and Alan Costello and David Maye have emigrated.
Forward David Kelly will also miss the first four months of the season after undergoing ankle surgery, although on a brighter note, midfielder Stephen Gilmartin and forwards Kenneth Sweeney and Brian Curran have rejoined the squad.
Kavanagh’s decision to retire from Kildare aged just 28 – for “personal reasons” – is perhaps the most surprising. Yet the Dublin-based Garda, currently building a house in Galway, where his wife is from, informed manager Kieran McGeeney this week that he would not be in a position to provide the commitment necessary.
Kildare begin their competitive season this Sunday against Carlow IT, with the team set to include several debutants such as James Eaton, Cathal McNally, Conor Mellett and Willie Groome.
Dermot Earley continues his recovery from injury, while Johnny Doyle is ready for a 14th intercounty campaign.
The Meath team named to play Longford in the O’Byrne Cup features Joe Sheridan at midfield, as new manager Mick O’Dowd, the county’s fifth manager in seven years, looks to restore some consistency in their fortunes.
He has included four debutants in Caolan Young, Cormac Rowe, Stephen Crosbie and Dalton McDonagh – but gone from the panel for 2013 are both Ward and goalkeeper David Gallagher.
Ward is no longer part of O’Dowd’s panel due to a recurrence of a serious ankle injury. Other short term absentees include Seamus Kenny, Shane McAnarney, Kevin Reilly, Alan Forde and Stephen Bray.
MEATH (SF v Longford): D Lyons; C Young, D Keogan, D Dalton; C Rowe, E Harrington; S Crosbie; C Gillespie, J Sheridan; P Gilsenan, D Carroll, J Queeney; D. McDonagh, P Byrne, M Newman.