Aaron Kernan – Premature Departure

October 13, 2014

Armagh star Aaron Kernan has retired from inter-county football after a decade playing for the Orchard team. The 30-year-old Crossmaglen Rangers clubman, who won the All Stars Young Footballer of the Year in 2005, played for the County for a decade accumulating 4 Ulster Senior Football Championships (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008), 1 National Football League Division 1 (2005), 1 National Football League Division 2 (2010), 1 Ulster Under-21 Football Championship (2004) and an All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship (2004). But, coupled with his inter-county exploits Aaron combined a very hectic club career which to date has yielded 10 Armagh Senior Football Championships (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), 7 Ulster Senior Club Football Championships (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012) and 3 All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championships (2007, 2011, 2012) which is a lot of playing miles under the bridge for an attacking-defensive half-back who seldom came off the field of play without having contributed to the scoreboard.

Both on and off the field Aaron was the consummate professional in an amateur sport, impeccably behaved in victory and defeat and always available for comment or interview regardless of the outcome of the game. Given his dedication to the game it was little wonder that he issued the following statement “It is a very difficult decision but I believe I’ve reached a stage where I need to focus energies on other aspects of my life. It was a great privilege for me to play for my county for 10 years.” He added: “I cherish every step of the journey that began for me following our All-Ireland U21 success back in 2004. I am particularly proud to have contributed to my family’s long-standing connections with Armagh football and to have been involved both with my brothers and my father Joe at the top level,” “Having discussed the current situation with my family however, I believe the time is now right to make the transition although I will continue to play Crossmaglen and remain actively involved in the GAA and the GPA.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported me throughout my county career but particularly my wife Marianne and my family.

“It is impossible to give the necessary commitment to compete at the top level in our game as an amateur without the backing of family and friends – for all that wonderful support I am deeply grateful.

“I was very fortunate to play alongside and against some outstanding footballers, sportsmen and individuals and will cherish those memories forever.

“Finally, I wish Kieran McGeeney and the Armagh team all the best in the future and I look forward to supporting them from the side-lines next year.”

Personally I think that Aaron has departed the County scene with still an awful lot to offer, as he showed in the 2014 championship campaign. For me, even at 30, still a starter on any team in Ireland it was probably his reduced role as “an impact sub” which he proved to be for Armagh, in the absence of injured team captain Ciaran McKeever which made his “very difficult decision” that little bit easier.

Aaron’s premature departure will no doubt be his club’s gain as they set out in search of a fifth consecutive County title next Sunday and onwards towards further Ulster and national glory with Aaron to the fore for years to come.