Kerry football is experiencing one of their greatest exoduses as Darran O’Sullivan yesterday became the fourth player in five weeks to retire from the inter-county scene.
Following the example of Kieran Donaghy, Donnchadh Walsh and Anthony Maher, the 2011 footballer of the year nominee yesterday made his announcement via the official county website.
Congratulations on concluding a career which earned him four All-Ireland SFC titles, one as the winning captain, 10 Munster crowns and an All-Star were led by Donaghy.
“Started with this man, finished with him,” he stated on social media.
“Struck pure fear in everyone with his blistering pace. A leader as he showed at a young age in 09 as Kerry captain. He was a great passer finisher and kicker, but his will to win and that bit of a dog in him is what I loved most.#legend”.”
In a lengthy statement, O’Sullivan, 32, opened: “It’s a day I never wanted to come, and it is with massive sadness I announce that it’s my time to move on.
“I’ve been extremely blessed to have had a career I could never have dreamed of.
I joined my boyhood heroes in the dressing room during the Winter of 2004, fresh faced and straight out of Minors and since then, have been lucky enough to have pulled the green and gold jersey on for 70 championship appearances, as well as having the opportunity to captain Kerry to All-Ireland glory.
The Glenbeigh-Glencar man, who will be remembered for a sizzling 2011 season as well as an impressive 2009 campaign as captain, was also applauded by Killian Young, now the oldest member of the panel at 31.
“Im very proud to have shared the jersey with this man since minor level in 2004, and we had some craic along the way! A superb role model with all the qualities to dismantle any defence. A class act.”
Marc Ó Sé tweeted: “What service @Darransull86 has given @Kerry_Official since 2004. The craic, laughter, friendship I had with this man for years is something I’ll always cherish. Nothing would stop this man when he would tear through the middle!”
Paul Geaney posted: “Well done @Darransull86 on a great career! What a player at full throttle! The crossbars will take less wearing in Fitzgerald’s stadium now.. enjoy the next chapter Dazzler”.
O’Sullivan was just as effusive in his praise for his team-mates.
“To say this was the greatest period of my life, is putting it mildly, I loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t change anything. The successes were well celebrated, and the disappointments were mourned together.
“There’s nothing more powerful than a dressing room united pulling in the same direction and that’s what I will miss the most. However, the highlight is that I am leaving that same dressing room with incredible friendships, friendships which I know will stand the test of time.”
Jack O’Connor, who gave O’Sullivan his debut, was acknowledged for what he did for the forward. “I didn’t want to single anyone out, but I do want to thank Jack O’Connor who placed huge faith in me by bringing me straight in from Minors and handing me my debut in the 2005 All-Ireland Final.”
Like Maher, O’Sullivan had seen a lot of time in the physio room in recent years and he jested: “I probably spent more time with the Medical Team than I would have wanted to in recent years, but I am grateful for the time and effort spent by them in helping to prolong my career.” As well as thanking supporters, club, family and his wife Laura who is expecting the pair’s first child next month, O’Sullivan delivered a message to the players he leaves behind and new manager Peter Keane.
“I want to wish Peter Keane and his Management Team well for the future, it’s an exciting time for Kerry Football and I’m looking forward to supporting you all. To the next generation, relish the challenge of being a Kerry Footballer and never forget the Players who went before you and put their heart and soul into it. The greatest honour you can have is pulling on that green and gold jersey and the pride that washes over you as it rests on your shoulders.”