A niggling back injury has forced Kildare footballer Dermot Earley to call time on his senior inter-county career.
Having missed much of 2011 and 2012 after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, the midfielder was an unused substitute for the county’s early league games this year, albeit without featuring.
It was prior to one of these clashes that he suffered the ultimately final setback.
“I hurt my back in the warm-up before the Dublin game on March 10,” he said on Newstalk’s weekend sports show yesterday.
“What I thought was a spasm turned out to be a disc that was bulging and hitting a nerve, and over the next two weeks that got progressively worse.
“I was really struggling with it and ended up getting surgery. I had one operation that didn’t work and I went back in the following week to have a second one. There’s a long rehab plan, and I’m begin to feel normal again but I don’t have enough time this season to rehab it correctly.
“I had said it was going to be my last season anyway, so this operation has ended my inter-county career.”
Earley’s last competitive outing for Kildare was as a late sub in the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Cork last year.
While his departure is not the way that he would have planned, he accepts that it was a call he had to make.
“I’m quite sad about it, but at the same time I’m happy enough to make that decision,” he said.
“That’s the way it goes, you’d like to finish on your own terms and go out on the playing field, like [soccer players] Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher.
“I am a bit jealous in that sense but your health in your wealth, my body has been through a lot in the last number of years, I think that this is the right decision to give it a rest and let it heal properly.”
A member of the Kildare senior panel since 1998, winning Leinster medals that year and in 2000, Earley still hopes to line out for his club Sarsfields this year but is not putting too much pressure on himself.
“You can’t just walk away,” he said. “I’m not like that, I need something to work towards.”
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