‘One of the most beautiful touches you’ll see for a big man’ - Senan Kilbride retires

Kevin McStay reflects on Roscommon attacker’s career - ‘a total team player’

Senan Kilbride has retired from the Roscommon senior football panel after eight years, telling his team mates and management team that his time was up.

The St Brigid’s attacker was to the fore as his club team captured the All-Ireland title in 2013, while also being the go-to man for his county for the guts of the past decade.

The left-footed corner forward made his championship debut for Roscommon in 2008 against Galway, spending much of his early years in the set-up competing in the lower divisions of the national league.

He missed out through injury in 2010 as Roscommon captured the Connacht title, but has since won Division Two and Three league titles.


However much of Kilbride’s standout moments have come in the green and red of St Brigid’s - featuring in a club side that has won nine county titles, four Connacht titles and an All-Ireland in the past 12 seasons.

He slotted 1-3 in the All-Ireland club final defeat of Ballymun Kickhams, having scored 1-5 in that season’s Connacht final victory over Ballaghaderreen.

Senan’s father, Sean played for both Mayo and Roscommon in the 70s and 80s. While his older brother Ian has also played alongside him for both club and county right up to the end of the 2016 season.

The 31-year-old’s last appearance for the county was in the Connacht final replay defeat to the Tribesmen in July.

Kilbride sent a departing message to his Roscommon teammates earlier this week, with no intention of officially announcing his retirement. The news however was confirmed on Thursday morning.

Roscommon GAA Chairman Seamus Sweeney said "on behalf of Roscommon GAA people everywhere I would like to thank Senan for his tremendous service to Roscommon GAA.

“I know he’ll continue the great work in St Brigid’s and through his work as a primary school teacher. Well done Senan and thanks for the memories.”

Having won his ninth county title with St Brigid’s last October, and last month competing in his eighth provincial decider in the defeat to Corofin - he will be continuing his vastly successful club career with the Kiltoom based outfit in 2017.

His Roscommon manager Kevin McStay - also at the helm at St Brigid’s for their All-Ireland success in 2013 - explained that the low-key Kilbride was hoping to make a typically fuss-free exit, never being one for the media attention that would come with a public statement.

"Senan was a total team player," McStay told the Irish Times. "It didn't matter who got the praise as long as the team was winning. A big fella, with a big heart. He was great to work with. I couldn't speak highly enough of him. I think all the long seasons with St Brigid's didn't help.

“They possibly caught up with him. Also the way the modern game is going, with all the demands, he wasn’t enjoying it as much.

“We tried everything to convince him to stay on but he was honest to the end. Typical of him. He wasn’t going to stick around and hide for the year.

“I said to him the other night that I was so glad that our paths had crossed, and that we had had a day out in the sun at club level. It was just a shame we didn’t have the time to replicate it at county level.

“He has one of the most beautiful touches you’ll see from a footballer for a big man. We will definitely miss him, but I suppose it’s time for a new era now.”

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist