O’Connor calls time on glittering career

by Gazette Reporter

ALL-Ireland winning goalkeeper Cliodhna O’Connor announced her retirement from club and inter-county football last week after a hugely successful playing career.

Indeed, the Naomh Mearnog woman featured for the Dubs in no fewer than five finals, eventually winning one at the fourth attempt.

Nine Leinster titles, two All-Stars and a place in the TG4 Team of the Decade from 2000-2010 make up the rest of the accolades in the former shot-stopper’s cabinet.

She has not been involved in any of the Dub’s National League campaign this year, which ends on Sunday unless they can qualify for the semi-finals.

It is in that time off that it seems her decision was made and led her to informing county boss Gregory McGonigle of the decision.

“I don’t miss it,” she said of her announcement. “I took a break at the start of last year for most of the league and I was humming and hawing a bit about coming back.But a lot of my crew and my batch of friends were giving it one last shot.

“I’d taken a break so it was a shorter season. I was back for the league final [against Cork], and with Hannah Tyrrell, who had been number one, going to rugby, Gregory was even more open to me coming back. Last year was one last crack at it.”

That one last crack came desperately close to making O’Connor a two-time All-Ireland winner, but for a one point defeat to Cork in last September’s final in Croke Park, in what was the fourth national championship final defeat she was involved in: Galway in 2003, Mayo in 2004 and Cork in 2009 were the others before she finally landed All-Ireland glory in 2010 with a win over Tyrone.

Work and personal commitments have been the reasons behind the Portmarnock native’s decision.

Having taken up rowing at novice level, along with her work at the National Athlete Development Agency (NADA), the Dublin legend looks set to continue an active lifestyle despite the gloves being hung up for the final time.

In her absence, Dublin have had mixed fortunes in the league so far ahead of its conclusion of regular fixtures this weekend. At the moment, McGonigle’s side sit one place outside the semi-final spot, and will need a win over league leaders Cork on Sunday to have a chance of making the last four.

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