Conor McManus salutes Dick Clerkin's commitment to the cause

Monaghan captain Conor McManus reckons Dick Clerkin was the last of a dying breed having soldiered with the Farney for nearly 20 years.
Conor McManus salutes Dick Clerkin's commitment to the cause

Clerkin brought the curtain down on a remarkable 18- season county career yesterday having been the last remaining senior county player to have featured in the 1990s.

He informed McManus of his decision last week and question marks now hang over the futures of fellow veterans Vinny Corey and Paul Finlay. McManus reckons with the demands on inter-county players never as high we won’t see another near 20-year career at the very top level.

“I don’t think we will because the demands have got that high,” said McManus. “A lot of players started their county careers after Dick and retired long before him. That just shows how physically demanding and how time- consuming the whole thing has become.

“It’s only going to be more and more difficult to emulate a fella like Dick and I really wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not done again.

“One of Dick’s great attributes was he was very rarely injured. People would say he was lucky in that regard but it’s more than luck, it’s about looking after yourself well and doing all the right things for nearly 20 years. That’s an incredible commitment to have made.”

McManus admitted there’s no chance of him playing for Monaghan as long as Clerkin did and reckons one incident earlier this year summed up the Currin man.

“He went through an awful lot to come back from ankle surgery to play this year and was just back when he got an awful bang in training and broke his eye socket,” said McManus. “It was a cold February morning in training and nobody would have blamed him if he’d said, ‘look lads, I tried to give it another year but it’s not to be’. But there was no chance of that and he came back and showed again that he was prepared to give everything to the cause.”

Clerkin was an unused sub in July when Monaghan suffered a shock qualifier defeat to Longford. It was a low note to end his career on considering how Monaghan had established themselves as a serious league and Championship force under Malachy O’Rourke.

Corey started that game and may consider retirement now too along with Finlay. “You’d be hoping Dick is the last man to go but if those other guys do decide to leave you couldn’t begrudge them,” said McManus. “The service they’ve all given has been outrageous. Put it this way, I’m not going to be ringing them trying to convince them of anything because they deserve more than that.”

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