Monaghan football legend Dick Clerkin has this morning brought down the curtain on his storied career with The Farney.
Clerkin was the last remaining player to have made his inter-county debut in the 1990s, and took to his column in the Irish Examiner to call time on a playing career which spanned nearly two decades.
End of the road! 😥🔵⚪️❤️ pic.twitter.com/lvwBFdxeQT
— D Clerkin (@clerkin_d) November 1, 2016
Truth be told, it'd be doing Clerkin's poignant article a disservice to label it a 'farewell statement'. It's more than that, and is frankly worth the price of the paper alone. Reflecting on a career inspired by the success of his father before him, Clerkin writes:
A creditable performance, on that otherwise forgettable night in Louth, marked the start of a roller-coaster journey that would take us around almost every county ground in the country.
Of the 180 or so times I have played for Monaghan since, you could have counted the games he missed on one hand. There were familiar words of advice before every one. Yet over a relatively short phone call last Friday evening, we both agreed now was the right time to leave it behind.
Discussing it with my wife Alison at length over the past few months, we both agreed that, for various reasons, it was time to move on. Crucially it feels right, but if I’m honest I knew long before now.
Clerkin revealed that a fateful day in July, which didn't see him feature off the bench despite his side's struggles with giantkillers Longford, was when he realised his Farney career was drawing to its conclusion. Despite it transpiring to be a sad day for Clerkin and Monaghan, it also provided the 34-year-old with one of his fondest memories:
A qualifier defeat to Longford in Clones marked my final day with Monaghan. With the boys struggling with the after-effects of a gruelling two-game battle with Donegal in the weeks previous, I watched on helplessly as a Longford ambush unfolded. Warming up, hoping to get one last run, I glanced into the crowd only to see my eldest son, Cailean, smiling curiously at me from only a few feet away.
He had been running along the front of the stand, mimicking my warm-up all evening. Making way for youth, I watched the final sub being brought on ahead of me. I knew there and then I was unlikely to be togged out for Monaghan again.
Before walking back to the stand, I motioned to Cailean to go for one last length of the stand together. He won’t remember it, but I will. One last memory to treasure, from an already bulging collection.
On Monaghan football itself, and his role within it, Clerkin writes:
I have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the psyche of Monaghan football during my career. Motivated by pride, sustained by hard work, validated with success. I am not going to patronise with thanks the countless people who have contributed to making Monaghan football what it is today. Striking an almost perfect balance between club and county, Monaghan football and all those responsible, should be held up as a shining example of what can be achieved with relatively limited resources. Supporters, administrators, sponsors, and mentors, all with a like-minded sense of duty and passion, for something bigger than ourselves.
I am proud to have been part of that transformation.
He signs off:
Slán libh, agus go raibh maith agaibh.
It's a wonderful piece which encompasses far more than the above, and we'd recommend popping down to the shop to pick up today's Examiner to give it a gander, or alternatively you can check it out on their website.