Nearly 20 years on from his debut, Laois's - and indeed Ireland's longest serving intercounty player Ross Munnelly has retired from the intercounty game.
Ross announced his retirement on twitter today. In a nice touch, the 40-year-0ld thanked Mick O'Dwyer for giving him a chance to achieve his dream for playing for his county in that amazing summer of 2003.
I wrote this note with a smile, as the time feels right to conclude my inter county days. Thank you Micko, for giving me the chance to achieve my dream of playing for Laois in 2003. It has been both a privilege and an honour.
My family have been my most loyal supporters and greatest inspiration. I will be forever grateful to my clubs Arles Kilcruise and all the people I shared the last 20 seasons with. An amazing experience with learnings and friendships that will last forever.
Life begins at 40 😎 pic.twitter.com/NpZUlF8PSW
— Ross Munnelly (@RossMunnelly) December 13, 2022
Great Servant To Laois
Ross was a great servant for the O'Moore county. Between making his debut in 2003, he played every single championship game for Laois till 2017. Even more incredibly, he scored in every single game apart from one.
In his first ever season on the intercounty scene, Laois won their first Leinster championship in 57 years. They beat Kildare in the final, 2-13 to 1-13. Munnelly was instrumental in their success, scoring 1-1 on the day. His goal was a smart finish from an acute angle.
Speaking to the GAA in 2020, reflecting on Laois' most recent triumph, Munnelly states that O'Dwyer gave them the belief that they'll achieve something
We had, up until Jim Gavin probably the greatest GAA manager of all time. I'm sure Kerry will make arguments that he is and so on. He provided such a belief base for us. He made us feel as a group we were going to achieve something. That if we worked hard, it would fall right for us.
Munnelly would later captain Laois in 2005 but they were unable to achieve similar success. During his 19 seasons of intercounty, he scored 7 goals and 190 points and played under an incredible 10 different managers.
There were some great tributes to Munnelly on Twitter - Philly McMahon called him 'the Benjamin Button of football'.
Congrats @RossMunnelly the Benjamin Button of football.🤣🙌
Good luck in your next chapter.
— Philly Mc Mahon (@PhillyMcMahon) December 13, 2022
To be coached and to play along side you mate is something I’ll always remember. All round good person 💪💪
— Ciaran Byrne (@Ciaran_Byrne94) December 13, 2022
Munnelly turns 40 at the end of the month and figures it's finally time to hang up the boots. What a servant he's been through good times and bad for Laois.