Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: Retiring stars deserve dignified exits

With news reaching us from Cork of John Gardiner's retirement, we are seeing a departure of players that first came upon our radar in the 1990s.

Given that Jimmy Barry-Murphy placed his faith in a bunch of youngsters such as Gardiner and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, it's only right that he should usher them out the door in his second coming as he brings through another generation to challenge the current supremacy of Kilkenny.

The players knew that, they have seen the hurling world through all perspectives and they realise that the future is best approached by hurtling yourself at it, rather than trying to hang on.

Ryan McMenamin's exit had an understated tone to it also. Not his style to prepare a press release, he informed his manager of his decision and once the news broke, chatted freely.

McMenamin, like Ó hAilpín and Gardiner, had nothing left to achieve in the game. Instead, their sense of loyalty to their coach had them wishing to serve in any way possible.

While researching long-serving players last week, one name cropped up — Sligo's Eamonn O'Hara. He made his Championship debut in 1994 and with manager Kevin Walsh re-appointed, O'Hara looks set to embark on his 20th Championship season.

That's what dedication and a tee-total lifestyle can achieve.

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