As the whole GAA world now knows, Paul Galvin is back. We all thought we had seen the end of one of the GAA’s most talked-about stars, but he’s back.
Retirement u-turns have been seen to work with Kerry footballers before, so we decided to look at a number of players that have returned from retirement successfully.
1. Brian Corcoran – Cork
Brian Corcoran’s best years coincided with some of Cork’s worst. He was Hurler of the Year in his debut season in 1992 when Cork lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny and 1993 onwards was a very barren spell for the Rebels.
Their fortunes started to turn in 1999 when Jimmy Barry-Murphy gave youth its chance and Cork won the All-Ireland title. Corcoran was the lynchpin of the side from centre-back and secured his second Hurler of the Year award that season.
Corcoran struggled in Cork’s shock defeat to Offaly in 2000 and 2001 saw Cork exit the championship early after a defeat to Limerick with Corcoran struggling with injury. At the end of 2001, Corcoran retired from all GAA at the age of 28. It was a shock to everyone.
Three years later, Corcoran returned to the Cork fold.
Talks of his return began at the end of the 2003 season and he made his return prior to the 2004 championship. He came back as a forward having spent the first part of his career in the backline.
He returned at full-forward and scored a point from his knees in his first game back against Limerick. He remained at full-forward on the Cork team that won two All-Ireland’s in 2004 and 2005 and came close to winning three All-Ireland’s in a row. He made up for the loss of Setanta Ó hAilpín and brought a lot of experience and quality to the Cork team.
2. Mike McCarthy – Kerry
Mike McCarthy led the way for Kerry footballers coming out of retirement and it is a template that many have followed. After a long and succesfull career in the full-back position for Kerry, he retired with three All-Ireland medals to his name.
Kerry struggled to replace McCarthy in the years that followed as teams copied the Kingdom’s tactics, placing their tallest and strongest ball winners at full-forward. Many players tried to fill the void left by McCarthy, but very few found success in doing so.
Kerry were struggling in the 2009 season. They had exited the Munster championship after a loss to Cork and struggled to victories over Longford and Sligo in the qualifiers. They needed something to lift their team and McCarthy’s return added what was missing.
Dublin were hot favourites to eliminate Kerry from the championship, but the Kerrymen blew them out of the water. They went on to win the All-Ireland that year and McCarthy’s return was seen as a huge turning point in their season. He remained at centre-back for two years before fully retiring in 2010.
3. DJ Carey – Kilkenny
Our first interviewee for PA Legends and one of the greatest hurlers of all time was also one of the most high-profile retirements in GAA history when he announced his unavailability for Kilkenny selection in early 1998 at the age of 27.
Despite enjoying a long, successful career at that stage, many people felt that it was still far too early for Carey to hang up his hurley. The fact that Kilkenny were going through such a quiet period of success may have influenced his decision, but he came out of retirement later in 1998 in time for the championship.
It was very much a successful return to the Cats set-up that coincided with the beginning of Brian Cody’s era in management. He won All-Ireland medals on his return in 2000, 2002 and 2003 on top of the previous successes in 1992 and 1993 from Carey’s first stint in the Kilkenny jersey.
People may forget that he had retired and come back, but it was massive news back in 1998 and news of his return was equally as big. It was great to see Carey continue to showcase his talents until he retired for good at the end of the 2005 season.
4. Eoin Brosnan – Kerry
The trend of Kerry footballers coming out of retirement has been prominent in recent times. Paul Galvin is still making headlines this week, as was Eoin Brosnan and the aforementioned Mike McCarthy before them.
Brosnan was a long serving member of the Kerry panel throughout the first decade of the 2000s. He was a regular in the Kingdom half-forward line and also had stints at midfield. He was a regular scorer and a big part of the team that won three All-Ireland in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
He had retired at the end of the 2008 season but returned to the Kerry panel in 2011 and similar to Mike McCarthy, a positional change was in store as he wore the number six shirt. It was a big change from the half-forward line but Brosnan fitted in well.
He may not have won an All-Ireland medal on his return but it would have to be looked at as a success overall. He contributed a lot to the Kerry team as a centre-back in terms of quality and experience. He may not have set the world alight but he definitely was not a failure during his return from 2011-2013.
5. Lar Corbett – Tipperary
Corbett shocked a lot of people in 2012 when announced his retirement from the Tipperary hurling panel. The Premier County had won the All-Ireland title in 2010, with Corbett a major part of the side. He was Hurler of the Year that season and continued his good form the following year.
Tipperary fell short in the All-Ireland final of 2011 but Corbett was still seen as the major threat in attack. this was underlined by his tally of 4-4 in the 2011 Munster final. He may have had a poor 2011 All-Ireland final but the 2012 season still saw Corbett as Tipp’s main man.
But then he shocked everyone by retiring.
It transpired that Corbett had left the Tipp panel for work purposes and never really closed the door on his Tipp career. A return was never ruled out and Corbett pleased fans by returnin to the Premier panel prior to the 2012 championship.
He made impacts from the bench in the Munster championship against Cork and Waterford but that season will be best remembered for the decision to mark Tommy Walsh in their All-Ireland semi-final with Kilkenny.
Corbett has not been at his best since his return but he has been a success. His hamstring injury in 2013 was a big reason for Tipperary’s early exit. 2014 saw glimpses of Corbett being back to his best, particularly in the game against Galway and the drawn All-Ireland final.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.