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Armagh legend McDonnell retires

By John Campbell

Former Armagh captain Steven McDonnell has confirmed his retirement from inter-county football.



The Killeavy clubman, who won an All-Ireland medal in 2002 as well as seven Ulster Championship accolades and has given outstanding service to his county for over a decade, was named an All Star on three occasions.

One of the best forwards ever to emerge from Ulster, McDonnell had taken time out from the Armagh squad this year because his wife was expecting the couple’s fourth child.

But now the 32-year-old marksman, whose prodigious scoring feats contributed enormously to Armagh’s successes since the dawn of the new millennium, has severed his links with the county.

“After 13 years of playing county football with Armagh I have decided that the time is right for me to retire at this level and move on,” he revealed.

“I want to thank all the managers and players that I played alongside and I made some great friendships along the way.

“I also want to thank all the supporters from Armagh that supported us throughout my time with the team and also supporters from all over Ireland that respected what Armagh achieved in this time.”

McDonnell, in tandem with Ronan Clarke and Oisin McConville, formed one of the most potent full-forward lines in the history of the GAA.

Indeed even earlier this year there were hopes that McDonnell might have returned along with Clarke to form a new inside line along with Jamie Clarke — a prospect that titillated the appetites of Armagh’s huge army of followers.

But McDonnell’s decision, while not altogether surprising, means that manager Paddy O’Rourke must now put even greater trust in the new breed of young forwards on whom he has been relying.

And the fact that three of them — Rory Grugan, Gavin McParland and Eugene McVerry — are currently injured does not make his daunting task of preparing for the Ulster Championship opener against powerhouses Tyrone any easier.

McDonnell captained Ulster in the inter-provincial football championship and represented Ireland in the International Rules series as well as landing a shoal of individual honours, mainly for his outstanding scoring feats.

He was renowned for his goal-scoring ability and often won matches for Armagh virtually single-handedly although his input to the team was never less than selfless.

Modest and unassuming, he was a role model for young players and has left a rich legacy for those who will now seek to follow in his footsteps.

l DEPOSED Cavan manager Val Andrews has confirmed that a vote of no confidence in his management did take place at a players' meeting on Tuesday night.

On RTE, Andrews agreed that by leaving he was acceding to “the democratic decisions of the players”.

There had been conflicting reports as to whether there had been a vote or not. Cavan County Board sources had insisted yesterday that there wasn't, and that Cavan players would have played on for Andrews. The Dubliner saw it differently, however.

Cavan released a statement yesterday stating that the issue had arisen at a meeting of the players in Virginia on Tuesday night, and from that, Andrews had resigned. But Andrews confirmed that he left because his position had become “untenable”.

Pressed on whether he had been the victim of player power, Andrews agreed. “That's facts,” he said. “The fact is the lads had a vote. I'm not going to walk into a room and stay on where I'm not wanted.”

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