MIKE McCARTHY won’t be part of the Kingdom’s Championship bid for 2011, it has emerged.
The Kilcummin man has informed coach Jack O’Connor that’s he is packing up inter-county football – and this time, the retirement is permanent.
The 32-year-old defender retired after the 2006 All-Ireland winning campaign but returned in dramatic circumstances at O’Connor’s behest last year to steady Kerry’s defence en route to their September 2009 success against Cork.
Despite a longer-than-desired off season this year – Kerry’s season finished at the beginning of August – McCarthy has already told the Kerry coach that his race is run.
He is the holder of four All-Ireland medals (2000, 2004, 2006 and 2009) and an U21 title from 1998.
O’Connor was quick to acknowledge his steadying influence when he returned to arms after Cork had defeated the Kingdom in the 2009 Munster semi-final at Páirc uí Chaoimh, sending Kerry through the qualifier route.
After constant coaxing from the coach, McCarthy returned for the qualifiers, and along with Paul Galvin was critical in guiding them past Antrim and into Croke Park, where they routed Dublin in the quarter-final. McCarthy is a defender’s defender, but a consummate ballplayer who’s as comfortable at half forward or midfield as he is in either line of defence. At 32, he’s hardly over the hill, and will be a very significant loss to a Kerry side in transition.
One bit of good news for Kerry though is Tomás O Sé’s appetite for the new season, having confirmed that he is hungrier than ever for 2011.
O Sé, who is the same age as McCarthy, has already intimated to Kerry management that he would like to be considered for some of the early stages of the National League, which kicks off with a home game against All-Ireland champions Cork in February.
Meanwhile, Paul Galvin has undergone keyhole surgery in Dublin to sort a persistent hip/groin problem in advance of the 2011 campaign.
His inter-county colleague Killian Young recently underwent a similar procedure in the capital.
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