Gormley: Time right for me to step aside

Tyrone great Conor Gormley believes the time is right to end his inter-county career.

Gormley: Time right for me to step aside

The Carrickmore clubman, a three time All Star, was a central figure for the Red Hands as they enjoyed their most successful ever period, winning the Sam Maguire Cup three times between 2003 and 2008.

“It was the most difficult decision that I had to make in my sporting career,” Gormley said of his decision to retire.

“I thought long and hard about it. It’s a big commitment to play county football and in my head I believe that I could still offer something at this level. But I feel that I have come to the right decision.

“It was disappointing that my last game in a Tyrone shirt ended in a championship defeat to our neighbours Armagh. I suppose at the end of that game it was in the back of my mind that was the last time I would wear a Tyrone jersey but I have only made the decision to retire lately. At the start of last year we had twins and family commitments come first now. I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a great career with Tyrone and I’m just glad that I left on my own terms. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Gormley will always be remembered for his game-saving block on Steven McDonnell in the final minutes of the 2003 All-Ireland final. But the man himself downplays the moment.

“I suppose that is a moment that a lot of people connect me with but there have been many blocks and key incidents from Tyrone players down the years that don’t get mentioned. I was just in the right place at the right time and it was as much instinct as anything else.”

That win in the first all Ulster All-Ireland final was the highlight of Gormley’s career although he also enjoyed the two wins of Kerry in 2005 and 2008.

“There is no doubt that the 2003 win was the pinnacle for me. I remember going to Tyrone games with my mum and dad when I was a small boy and I always wanted to play for the county. To be a part of the first team to win the Sam Maguire was extra special, walking up the steps of the Hogan Stand is something I will never forget.

“Of course going on to win another two was unbelievable. I will always remember Cormac McAnallen sitting in the corner of the room at Quinn’s Corner and saying that great teams win more than one All-Ireland. Those words always stayed with me when we won in 2005 and 2008 and we won them in Cormac’s memory. It was unbelievable the way that he died and its still difficult to take in.”

Despite winning three titles Gormley still has regrets that they didn’t win at least two more.

“The 2009 semi-final against Cork was one that got away as far as I’m concerned. We had been playing well but in the second half they got away from us. A couple of years ago against Mayo was another chance missed because if you get to a final anything can happen as the formbook goes out the window.”

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