One of Tyrone's greatest ever defenders, Conor Gormley, has announced his retirement from inter-county football.
The Carrickmore clubman was a lynchpin for Tyrone as they won the All-Ireland three times between 2003 and 2008.
On each of those occasions Gormley was recognised with an All Star award and it will be strange seeing Tyrone run out on to the field without him.
“It was the most difficult decision that I had to make in my sporting career,” said Gormley.
“In fairness to Mickey [Harte], he gave me plenty of time to come to my decision and I thought long and hard about it. It’s a big commitment to play county football and in my head I believe that I could still offer something at this level, but I feel that I have come to the right decision.
“It was disappointing that my last game in a Tyrone shirt ended in a championship defeat against our neighbours Armagh.
“I suppose at the end of that game it was in the back of my mind that was the last time I would wear a Tyrone jersey but I have only made the decision to retire lately. At the start of last year we had twins and family commitments come first now.
“I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a great career with Tyrone and at the end of the day retirement comes around to everyone and I’m just glad that I left on my own terms. I enjoyed every minute of it and I want to thank my mum and dad, my wife, my sisters and all the family for their support over the years as I couldn’t have achieved what I did without them.”
Gormley will always be remembered for making “that block” on Steven McDonnell in the 2003 All-Ireland final but he was modest when reminded about that.
“I suppose that is a moment that a lot of people connect me with but there have been many blocks and key incidents from Tyrone players down the years that don’t get mentioned,” he said.
“I was just in the right place at the right time and it was as much instinct as anything else.”
Pinnacle That win in the first all-Ulster All-Ireland final was the highlight of
Gormley’s career. “There is no doubt that the 2003 win was the pinnacle for me,” he said.
“I remember going to Tyrone games with my mum and dad when I was a small boy and I always wanted to play for the county.
“To be a part of the first team to win the Sam Maguire was extra special, walking up the steps of the Hogan Stand is something that I will never forget.
“Of course going on to win another two was unbelievable. I will always remember Cormac McAnallen sitting in the corner of the room at Quinns Corner and saying that great teams win more than one All-Ireland.
“Those words always stayed with me when we won in 2005 and 2008 and we won them in Cormac’s memory. It was unbelievable the way that he died and its still difficult to take in.”
Despite winning three titles, Gormley still has regrets that they didn’t win at least two more.
“The 2009 semi-final against Cork was one that got away as far as I’m concerned,” he said.