Paul Barden still bitten by football bug as he throws hat into ring for another year

Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin joins Longford stalwart in committing to county again

Hurling may have lost several of its old soldiers to retirement towards the end at 2014

but there appears to be life left in their football counterparts, including Longford veteran Paul Barden.

Longford are one of the first counties straight back into the football action in 2015 – hosting DCU in Saturday's O'Byrne Cup opener, now refixed for Pearse Park – and manager Jack Sheedy has announced a preliminary panel that will once again be captained by defender Dermot Brady.

For Barden, who turns 35 next July, another season with Longford would mark his 17th in all, given he made his senior debut for Longford back in 1999. Sheedy reckons he’s one of the few players still active in the game from that era, and fully expects him to feature at some stage in the coming months.


“Paul had a little bit of corrective work done, in the close season, so we hope to have him back in the next four weeks or so and see how it goes from there,” said Sheedy. “But his intention is that if his body is up to it, he’s happy, he wants to play for another year. It’s just wear and tear, he just needs to manage this things and he’s going about it in the right way.”

Another survivor from the 1999 season is Limerick veteran John Galvin, and he's also eyeing up further action in 2015, according to Limerick manager John Brudair.

“We would be very hopeful that John would get back in for us but only he knows the story, and he will make his decision in the next few weeks,” said Brudair. “He is not confirmed yet and you couldn’t expect him to be, year-on-year. We would just be hoping we could get another year out of him.”

County title

Last year saw Galvin move clubs from his native Croom to Cratloe in Clare, where he lives, and while this didn’t impact on his eligibility to play for Limerick, he did feature during Cratloe’s run to another Clare county title.

Another veteran of the game, Monaghan's Dick Clerkin, is also ready to go for another season, having been included in manager Malachy O'Rourke's panel for the upcoming Dr McKenna Cup, which begins on Saturday with the hosting of UUJ at Castleblayney.

Clerkin, who turns 33 next year, is already a veteran of 12 championship campaigns, yet still has the hunger to give it at least one more year. O'Rourke, however, has included a raft of newcomers, including Enda Duffy, John McCarron, Paddy McGuigan, Brendan McElroy, Brian Greenan, Christopher McKenna and Thomas Connolly. Also included are Neil McAdam, who returns to the panel after a year of travelling, and Paddy Kierans, who last featured in the 2011 panel.

Meanwhile, new Wexford manager David Power has confirmed the loss of several of his seasoned players for the year ahead, which begins on Sunday with the hosting of DIT, in Gorey, also in the first round of the O'Byrne Cup. Daithí Waters, their most consistent midfielder last year, has confirmed his intention to play hurling only with Wexford for 2015, while PJ Banville will spend the year in America, where he actually finished up playing at the end of last season.

Both Graeme Molloy, last year's captain, and the returning Anthony Masterson will miss Sunday's game through injury.

Panel members

And Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath, now in his second year in charge, has gone even further by introducing nine new panel members in total: Eoin McManus,

James Allen

, Ryan Lyons,

Sean McManus


James McMahon


Ciaran Flaherty


Darren McQuade


Eamon McHugh


Mickey Jones


Two-time All Star Barry Owens retired at the end of last season, along with Tommy McElroy and Paul Ward.

Fermanagh begin their 2015 campaign against Queen's University at Brewster Park on Sunday. Dublin Bus has announced a free shuttle service between Whitehall Church car park and the Parnell's GAA club in Coolock (from 11.30am) for tomorrow's double bill of Dub Stars New Year Challenge games. The Dublin hurlers are out first (12.30pm), followed by the footballers (2pm). The service will continue until after both games have finished.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics