WESTMEATH’S GARY CONNAUGHTON believes it is the right time to hang up his inter-county boots.
The 33-year-old goalkeeper informed team-mates of his decision after the All-Ireland SFC Round 1 defeat to Fermanagh in Mullingar on Saturday – nine years after making his senior debut for the Lake County.
Gary, who plays his club football with Tubberclair, is regarded as one of Westmeath’s greatest players and won the Leinster title in 2004 as well as an All-Star four years later.
Speaking to Newstalk’s Off The Ball tonight, C0nnaughton said: ”I’ve made up my mind up that this is it – inter-county football is a young man’s game. I’ve made a couple of mistakes and I feel I’m not as sharp as I was. I’m looking at the best interests of Westmeath.
“Some of the lads don’t think I’m going to retire. They think I’ll change my mind and remind that Shane Lennon is 42.”
Looking back, I’ve had 12 good years. I had loads of calls and messages from people thanking me. There were plenty of good footballers who played for Westmeath and never won anything. So I’m one of the lucky ones.
“It was great time to be involved.”
On winning the county’s first and only Leinster senior championship, he added: ”It was a great night in Kinnegad and then up to Mullingar. There were 15,000 in the streets. It was like winning the All-Ireland. After that night there were celebrations for about a week.”
Connaughton was also a talented goalkeeper in soccer and played for Athlone Town in the late 90s before concentrating on Gaelic football.