Monday 18 December 2017

Hail the ageing All Stars!

DESSIE DOLAN has been showered with plaudits since his retirement announcement last weekend - and proper order too.

He has been hailed as one of Westmeath's finest players and, while not sufficiently wizened to pass judgement on some famous predecessors, in our book he must surely qualify as the greatest ever.

Just consider not alone his longevity but the breadth of his achievements - as arguably the most important member of a team that made Leinster senior championship history (in 2004), as an All Star (that same year), as an All-Ireland U21 winner (1999) and as a Leinster club champion (with Garrycastle in 2011).

Sadly, few players have the luxury of signing off on a high and Dessie's departure came at the (anti) climax of a season that saw Westmeath lose all 12 competitive matches between O'Byrne Cup, league and championship. He turns 35 next week - time for a few more county medals or even to fine-tune his golf swing.

This column is struggling to name another inter-county footballer, still playing, who is older than Dolan - proof that mid-30s stalwarts are not alone an endangered species but nearly extinct.

However, in honour of his retirement, we've picked a team of thirtysomethings who would give most counties a run for their money - hip replacements allowing!


(1) Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), aged 32; (2) Marc Ó Sé (Kerry) 34, (3) Aidan O'Mahony (Kerry) 34, (4) Conor Gormley (Tyrone) 33; (5) Aaron Kernan (Armagh) 30, (6) Ciaran McKeever (Armagh) 31, (7) Seamus Kenny (Meath) 34; (8) Dick Clerkin (Monaghan) 32, (9) Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone) 31; (10) Declan O'Sullivan (Kerry) 30, (11) Alan Brogan (Dublin) 32, (12) Alan Dillon (Mayo) 30; (13) Stephen O'Neill (Tyrone) 33, (14) Kieran Donaghy (Kerry) 31, (15) Benny Coulter (Down) 32.

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