Sweet Memories

April 17, 2012

As GAA followers throughout the country heard the news, that Steven McDonnell decided to retire from intercounty football their minds were immediately filled by sweet memories of some of his heroic performances during his 13 years of service to Armagh.

It is no coincidence that the Orchard County’s most productive spell of success incorporates the Killeavy ace’s term of office with the county, as he was a shining example to all both on and off the field of play. Very committed to the cause Stevie oozed talent, superb vision, predatory goal instinct and a footballing brain which brought him the highest accolades from his peers and respect from supporters from every corner of Ireland.

Footballer of the Year in 2003, Stevie also collected 3 All-Star awards 2002, 2003 and 2005 along with International recognition in the Aussie Rules series including the honour of Captaining that team.

The crowning glory of a glittering county career came with the All-Ireland victory in 2002 to go with 7 Ulster titles and being Captain when Armagh won the National Football League.

Two of the county managers which Stevie played under had this to say”

Current Orchard County boss Paddy O’Rourke says the former Armagh captain knows best what he wants: “He has been a superb player. He has been very good for me in my time at Armagh,” [O’Rourke comments in Friday’s Irish News]. “I respected his decision to go, if he feels it is time for him to retire. I feel he could probably have stayed on for another couple of years but, if he feels he wants to retire, then that is the right thing for him to do.  He was a very talented and committed footballer. He was very committed to Armagh football. He produced it on the big days and on the big occasions; he would never let you down.  He had a great mental capacity to deal with the pressure on the important days”.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, former Armagh manager Joe Kernan paid his personal tribute to Steven McDonnell.

“I’m sorry to see him go.  He owed nothing and Armagh wouldn’t have had the success without him.  He knows best. He has a wife and four kids and it was a pleasure dealing with him. For a fella so slight, he had two of the best hands in the game and was a great finisher”.

There are those who feel that Stevie would have something still to offer to the Armagh cause for a few years yet and that his decision was premature.  But for a man who has been at the coalface of Armagh football for so long, only he knows what is required from his body to sustain the level needed to keep up the high standards which he always aspired to and reached at inter -county level.

Wanting to put more back into his club Killeavy, for whom he is Captain this year, would have helped tip the scales towards his retirement decision.

The legacy of sweet memories produced by “Stevie from Killeavy “ in the Armagh jersey will remain etched in the hearts and minds of supporters forever and a day.

Stevie, the pleasure lies with those of us who had the privilege of seeing you play. Now you can enjoy the pleasures of life with your wife and four children after years of dedicated sacrifice to Armagh.