A leader, a fearless operator and a gentleman — those were just some of the themes running through the tributes to Sligo great Eamonn O’Hara who called time on his inter-county career yesterday after almost 19 seasons.
The Tourlestrane native’s CV boasts one Connacht championship medal, All Star award, League titles and an International Rules medal, leaving behind him “an outstanding legacy”, says Sligo county board chairman Cyril Feehily.
“He was amongst the greatest ever Sligo footballers. The fact that his inter-county career lasted 19 years is a testament to the man himself. Eamonn prided himself on his fitness and he is an example to every footballer out there,” said Feehily.
The imposing midfielder was a central figure in many Sligo triumphs, but one of his most famous performances came in the 2007 Connacht final triumph against Galway.
Sligo corner-back Charlie Harrison is adamant the JJ Nestor Cup would not have resided in the Yeats County that evening was it not for O’Hara: “His goal that day was something special, you never forget that kind of score. He soloed through right foot, right foot, right foot, all the time drawing the defender and then he let fly with the left. It was an absolute peach of a goal.”
O’Hara was later substituted in the decider, but Harrison says he continued to play an instrumental role: “I’ll never forget the image of Eamonn standing on the sideline driving the whole team forward. His will to win is unrivalled. It was part of his mentality and he would do anything to win.”
O’Hara will continue to line out at club level where he has already claimed seven county senior medals. Tourlestrane chairman Brendan Leonard says he is an inspiration to the club’s younger members.
“At grassroots level he has been and continues to be a fantastic servant. He will tog out for Tourlestrane this Saturday and he hasn’t missed a club game this year. Eamonn is the finest motivator I have ever seen.”
Announcing the reasons behind his retirement, O’Hara said: “While Gaelic football has been and continues to be a massive part of my life, I believe after nearly two decades wearing the Sligo jersey, the time is right for me to step aside. I do so knowing that I was very privileged to have played for my county, my province and my country.”
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