Over the last decade, Gaelic football and hurling have became a young men's games, players like Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion have stepped away from inter county football in their late 20s. The commitment levels required in today's game mean we are seeing fewer players play into their 30's.
However, it's fair to say those who still soldier on and are playing in their third decade have become inspirational characters for their respective counties.
Here we have put together a starting fifteen of players who made their senior intercounty debut before 2010 and that are still currently playing. Many are involved this weekend. It's safe to say this team would take some stopping.
- Chris Kerr (Antrim)
Intercounty Debut- 2007
Remarkably halfway through the 2022 season Chris Kerr made his return to the Antrim senior footballers for the first time since 2018. Kerr is a player who has shown massive resilience recovering from two cruciate injuries and at the age of 35 is still trying his lot with the saffron county this year. Between 2010 and 2012 Chris Kerr claimed a All-Ireland senior club football title with St Gall's and was part of the Antrim team who turned over Galway in their famous qualifier victory in 2012.
2. Niall Darby (Offaly)
People when they hear of the name Darby automatically think of Seamus Darby who is uncle to Niall Darby. Niall Darby is a player who has experienced the highs and lows of sport between playing in Division three and four for the majority of his career. The Rhode clubman has experienced a lot of success at club level and is a tight tenacious defender who likes to bomb forward at any chance he gets.
3. Neil McGee (Donegal)
A no-nonsense defender and has shown how important he is for Donegal in the past few seasons. Enjoying his 18th season in the Tir Chonaill Jersey, McGee is a traditional full back a type of full back which might not see in today's game again and has won everything in the inter-county which compromises of three All Stars, one All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, five Ulster Senior Football Championships and one National Football League
4. Chrissy McKaigue (Derry)
Debut - 2008
Chrissy McKaigue is everything you want in a modern day defender whether it's his tackling, his distribution or kicking long range scores the Slaughtneil man has it all. The versatile has been through good and bad times for Derry from playing in Division four to more recently over-turning All-Ireland champions Tyrone. McKaigue had brief stint in the AFL for the Sydney Swans and during the off season the towering figure throws his lot in with the Slaughtneil hurlers.
5. Martin Reilly (Cavan)
Debut - 2007
Martin Reilly is what you call a transition player who has played the majority of his football around the middle third area. Reilly runs himself into the ground everyday he lines out for the Breffni county whether it's tracking back or popping up with a score on the scoreboard. The versatile attacker dabbled in soccer at a young age where he lined for Ireland at underage level and spent a brief stint with Burnley in his youth.
6. Darren Hughes (Monaghan)
Debut - 2006
If your looking for a warrior and a man who will throw his body on the line everyday he plays look no further than Darren Hughes. Hughes has excelled in the sweeper role in the past few seasons for the Farney county where the Scotstown native has picked up superb positions from a defensive perspective and brought a defensive security to the Ulster side.
7. Aidan O'Shea (Mayo)
Playing slightly out of position, however James Horan has tried Aidan O'Shea previously in the half back line this year during the national league. Aidan O'Shea has probably received unfair criticism in the last year. The Breaffy clubman has constantly played inside and in the half forward line for Mayo. O'Shea may not contribute as much as some of the other forwards in this team but his aggression and physicality in the tackle is what makes the towering Mayo forward impressive.
8. Paul Conroy (Galway)
Conroy suffered a double leg break in 2018 where many believed his career could come to the end. Since then the Galway veteran has played the best football of his career kicking some outstanding long-range scores.
9. David Moran (Kerry)
Moran has soldiered for the green and gold for quite while now. His catching around the middle third and his kick passing is something which make the Kerin O'Rahilly's clubman stand out as a top midfielder.
10. Ross Munnelly (Laois)
Munnelly made the earliest debut of anyone on this list. He is a player who has played in all positions in the Laois forward unit. Broke into the O'Moore county set up in 2003 and still to this day at the age of 39 is still a vital part of this Laois team. The Laois veteran experienced Leinster success in 2003 under Mick O'Dwyer but since then he played most of his football while Dublin were dominating Leinster.
11. Michael Murphy (Donegal)
Murphy will go down as the greatest Donegal footballer to ever play football for the Tir Chonaill men. The big question do you play Murphy on the 45 or on the edge of the square. It's a question that still remains to this day.
12. Ben Brosnan (Wexford)
Brosnan plays with a swagger in attack and always looks at taking his man on at any chance he gets. The Slaneysider attacker dabbled in soccer with Wexford youths for a brief stint and has overcame hamstring problems to remain a vital cog of Shane Roche's team at the age of 34.
13. David Tubridy (Clare)
A player who doesn't receive the recognition he deserves. In his 14-year intercounty career the Doonbeg man has been the talisman for the Banner. Tubridy is a highly under-rated forward who can the most out of a little opportunity in front of goal.
14. Niall McNamee (Offaly)
Similiar to Munnelly McNamee broke onto the scene in 2003 at the age of 17. The Offaly native has shown massive character off the pitch after overcoming gambling addiction. The Rhode clubman is still shooting the lights out after hitting 1-05 for John Maughan's side in opening round of Tailteann cup against Wexford.
15. Conor McManus (Monaghan)
Debut - 2007
Amazingly McManus started his career off at wing back before moving into corner forward. McManus is a once in a generation talent for the Farney county. His ability to fire over points from tight angles is the Monaghan corner forward most impressive attribute. He has picked up three All Stars in a phenomenal career.