Dick Clerkin: Why is there such pressure to retire?

GAA retirements have become very fashionable these days.

There’s nearly more fervour devoted to predicating which thirtysomethings are going to walk away than there is to picking the All Stars.

As far back as 2010 (I was 29) people started asking me if I would be back the following year. It is assumed that playing into your 30s is generally not feasible anymore, such are the demands of inter-county football.

This summer Monaghan played four Championship games in 12 weeks.

Demanding indeed. If inter-county GAA was professional, there wouldn’t be any mention of retiring in your early 30s. So why, just because we do it for the enjoyment and the privilege rather than a pay cheque, do we assume our capabilities diminish at a faster rate than our professional counterparts?

For me, far too many inter-county players are retiring too early. Many are bludgeoned by the keyboard warriors and feel almost obliged to move on.

Over the past few years I have asked myself a few simple questions when deciding whether to put myself forward again. Do my family and professional commitments allow me to give the necessary effort? Do I think I will make a meaningful contribution to the team? Do I still enjoy playing inter-county football?

It’s a bit early yet for the ritual, but when the time comes, the answers to those questions alone will determine whether I will, as Páidí Ó Sé used to say, “go at it again”.


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