Hunger not there to carry on, says retiring Fintan Goold

Cork footballer Fintan Goold last night announced his inter-county retirement, admitting that “the hunger wasn’t there to do it again.”
Hunger not there to carry on, says retiring Fintan Goold

The Macroom man was involved with the county set-up since 2004, and won an All-Ireland SFC medal in 2010.

He toyed with walking away 12 months ago but opted to remain with the squad for the 2016 campaign.

“I did think long and hard about it at the end of 2015,” he says, “but the way the Kildare game went, nobody wanted to finish on that note.

“I talked to [manager] Peadar [Healy] and said I’d give it one last crack, but I was picking up a lot of small injuries, maybe I was pushing myself a bit too hard trying to get back.

“The first game I played was championship with my club; I didn’t really do enough really to break in over the summer.

“I forced my way back into the panel alright for the Donegal game, but walking out of Croke Park that day, I knew my time was up.

“If I had walked away last year, there might be a certain element of ‘Did I do the right thing?’, but now I’m content, I leave with no hard feelings. I’ll be the first one down in Páirc Uí Rinn for the first league game next February.”

Goold, who works with Eli Lilly in Dunderrow, won’t miss what he calls the “prescriptive nature” of football’s demands on his time.

“People go on about inter-county lads training like professionals but I don’t know if it’s any harder than when I started, it’s all the other stuff that adds up,” he says.

“Things you have to do at certain times like recovery sessions or meetings, meeting dietitians and getting scans done, it eats into your own time. It probably makes you question it when things aren’t going well.

“I always saw it as something I loved doing and it was just the feeling that the hunger wasn’t there to do it again. It wasn’t that I felt like a slave or anything like that.

“It probably is the case that the bar can’t go much higher. My only fear is that the strong counties will get stronger because the rewards are there for that, but to keep asking teams – who aren’t realistically going to pick up silverware – to keep putting in that effort, I just hope that the gulf doesn’t get wider.”

A three-year Cork minor – announcing himself with 1-4 as a 16-year-old in the 2002 Munster semi-final loss to Kerry - he was brought into the senior panel at the end of 2004 by Billy Morgan.

Cork had exited the championship to Fermanagh, but something was bubbling and it wouldn’t be until the 2011 quarter-final loss to Mayo that someone other than Kerry would beat them in the championship.

“I tip my hat to the likes of Nicholas [Murphy], Graham [Canty], Anthony Lynch,” Goold says. “When we joined, they were so positive, even though they had been through a tough few years when things were negative and they could have been disheartened.

“They might have needed us but we definitely needed them too. If we didn’t have that cohort there to help us then I don’t know if we’d have succeeded in getting Sam Maguire.”

In a squad laden with talent both present and emerging, nailing down a starting spot wasn’t easy. Goold didn’t start an All-Ireland final but finished three.

“I think ‘regret’ isn’t the word I’d use about not starting more,” he says.

“There were times that maybe you were a little bit disappointed, but you have to realise too that those Cork teams were very good.

“Every guy wants to play, but there were only a handful of games I didn’t play some part in. Would I have like to have started more? Absolutely, you look at an All-Ireland final and the parade going round, that’s a hair-raising moment and you want to be a part of it but you’re just ready to come on and play your part.”

To that end, he doesn’t overemphasise the importance of a catch from a kickout late in the 2010 final against Down – “If I had dropped it, I don’t think I’d have ever been forgotten, put it that way, it was dropping for ages!” – instead, he prefers to focus on things like Cork’s logistics man, Mick Curtin, calling to his house with a cooler-box of ice every night for three weeks before the final, as he recovered from an ankle injury.

Likewise, a missed goal opportunity in that 2011 loss to Mayo doesn’t keep him up at night. The 2012 semi-final defeat to Donegal is another of the what-ifs, but it’s always the way that Cork football teams – even the successful ones – are accused of under-achieving.

“There are enough positives for him to remember.

“It’s only now that people are realising that they were really good days,” he says.

“When we look back, we’re extremely thankful to have won one All-Ireland.

“A big thing was winning the national league in 2010. It’s not the big prize but it was a national title, another stepping stone.

“You just keep knocking on the door and never give up.”

His golf game will benefit from the free time, while newly-married life (he weds fiancée Karen this Friday) will keep him occupied too. And there’s always the club.

“Since I was a Cork minor, I’d always like to think I was hugely committed to my club, though you’re obviously not there 80% of the time,” he says. “The club have always been fantastically supportive, the fellas who’ll back you through good days and bad, but I did feel I wanted to give four or five good years, when my body is still in good shape.

“I remember reading in the summer Richie Power saying that when he walked off after his last All-Ireland final he didn’t know that he wouldn’t be able to play with Carrickshock again.

“It’s a place I never wanted to find myself, when my club had backed me all along.

“You want to give it your best and that’s what I’m going to do over the next few years.”

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