Mullins and Oakley announce Offaly retirements

OFFALY hurling duo Brian Mullins (pictured) and Ger Oakley have confirmed their retirement from the inter-county scene.

Goalkeeper Mullins has stepped down after losing his place to James Dempsey, while veteran midfielder Oakley will be spending more time focusing on his farming career.

Offaly manager Joe Dooley said: “(Ger) has given great service to Offaly hurling. He always gave 100% and had great spirit. He was not playing with a senior hurling club which meant it was harder to stay at the level he did.

“He never gave less than 100%. He was captain in the league this year and led by example.”

Newly-appointed Fermanagh team boss John O’Neill has been hit with a double blow ahead of next year’s National Football League: forward Eamon Maguire will be sidelined for the next nine months with a cruciate ligament injury while soccer commitments have ruled out key centre-back Ryan McCluskey for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rainbow’s last game for Kildare will be marked by a head-to-head battle with his long-time partner in the Lilywhite defence, Glenn Ryan.

Rainbow will captain the All Whites from centre-forward against a Rest of Ireland XV unit that includes some of the biggest names in GAA history in Newbridge tomorrow (2pm). Ryan has been selected at centre-back for the guest selection, with another regular defensive fulcrum, current Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney picked on the left flank, where he will attempt to shadow speedy Eoghan O’Flaherty.

Kildare selector Aidan O’Rourke has the unenviable task of marking All Star and championship leading scorer, Johnny Doyle.

The Kildare team taking to the field against a unit that boasts an accumulation of 34 All Stars is a strong one, although All Star defender Peter Kelly, Daryl Flynn, Morgan O’Flaherty, Alan Smith and James Kavanagh miss out for a variety of reasons.

Rainbow’s Suncroft clubmate, Fionn Dowling, will make his first senior start on the day his idol bows out. A member of this year’s minor team, Dowling had progressed to the senior squad by the conclusion of the championship.

Apart from Ryan and McGeeney, the Rest of Ireland team features Peter Canavan, Darragh O Sé, Steven McDonnell, Brian Dooher, Graham Geraghty, Seamus Moynihan and Michael Donnellan. Proceeds will go to the Kildare training fund, St John of God and St Brigid’s Hospice and tickets are available from clubs or county board officials, management and players.

KILDARE: S McCormack; H McGrillen, D Hendy, A Mac Lochlainn; B Flanagan, E Bolton, M Foley; R Kelly, H Lynch; E O’Flaherty, A Rainbow (C), E Callaghan; J Doyle, P O’Neill, F Dowling.

REST OF IRELAND: C Byrne; M O Sé, S Moynihan, A O’Rourke; G Geraghty, G Ryan, K McGeeney (C); D O Sé, P McGrane; B Dooher, E O’Hara, M Donnellan; S McDonnell, J Fallon, P Canavan.

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