For the third time in the space of a month, a Kerry All-Ireland football winner has retired

THE THEME OF change continues in Kerry football with Anthony Maher this morning becoming the third All-Ireland winner in the space of a month to retire.

Maher won All-Ireland medals with Kerry in 2009 and 2014.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The experienced midfielder joins Kieran Donaghy and Donnchadh Walsh – who both called it a day in September – in bringing his inter-county career to a close since their 2018 championship concluded.

With Kerry set to appoint Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s replacement in the hotseat next Monday 8 October, the new manager will have to plan without a long-serving trio for the 2019 season.

Dublin’s Michael Darragh MacAuley under pressure from Anthony Maher and Kieran Donaghy of Kerry in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Maher won All-Ireland senior medals with Kerry in 2009 and 2014 but the latter triumph was a more notable one for him personally as he started at midfield in the win over Donegal. He had become a mainstay in the team at that stage and won an All-Star award for his exploits the following year, a campaign that saw Kerry lose the All-Ireland final to Dublin.

The 32-year-old also won eight Munster senior football medals and two National league medals. Injury had curbed his involvement this year and he was restricted to substitute appearances in Kerry’s three outings in the Super 8s.

He announced his decision in a statement on the Kerry GAA website.

“Since pulling on my first green and gold jersey back in 1999 for the primary game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh I’ve had the immense pleasure of representing my family, my parish and my county – now the time has come to call it a day

“I’d firstly like to thank all my former team-mates. While I am retiring from Kerry football with a heavy heart, I’m retiring with incredible memories. We’ve had highs and lows together but the bond developed throughout has been immeasurable. I look forward to watching and supporting as the current group continue to develop and grow, and return to glory once again.

“I’d also like to express my gratitude to all the management teams down throughout the years. Their commitment to the cause has always been second to none. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me first by Pat O’Shea, further developed and nurtured by Jack and Éamonn and their backroom teams. A special thanks to the team of medics and physios who have looked after me, especially in recent years. Also, to the County Board who have always been and continue to be a fantastic support to the entire team.

Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony celebrates with Anthony Maher after the 2011 Munster football final.

Source: James Crombie

“To my club, Duagh – I thank all of the people who have invested in me and shown massive support to me throughout my entire footballing career. I hope I have done you all proud. The club is where it began for me and now I am really looking forward to the years ahead with Duagh.

“My parents and my sisters have always been incredible when it came to my footballing commitments. They’ve always supported me, right back to that first training session my dad brought me to in Duagh as a young boy. I don’t think things looked too promising that day, but the encouragement began straight away and thankfully it paid off!

“All my extended family and friends – thanks for the never ending support and loyalty through thick and thin.

“To my wife Megan – the Limerick woman proudly sporting the green and gold since 2008! Thank you for your constant love, support, belief and loyalty. I look forward to beginning the next chapter with you.

“And finally, the supporters. Thank you for always backing our team and I’m really looking forward to joining you in the stands in 2019.

“Ciarrai abú!”

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Maher was praised for his contribution to the Kerry cause by former managers Fitzmaurice and Jack O’Connor.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice with Anthony Maher after this year’s Munster final.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I would like to congratulate Anthony on his retirement from the Kerry senior football team,” stated Fitzmaurice.

“Anthony made his debut in 2008 after a breakout county championship with Feale Rangers in 2007. He has served Kerry with honesty, honour and humility and retires with many distinctions to his name.

“During my time in charge Anthony was a hugely important member of our group, being our midfield anchor for much of that time. His involvement in the recent past has been limited by debilitating injuries that he stubbornly defied to keep playing at the highest level.

“He was a leader in the dressing room often acting as a conduit to management. He was a complete midfielder, strong in the air, athletic, skilful, two footed and extremely hard working. He was exceptionally dedicated to his craft and worked tirelessly on his game.

“In 2014 we holidayed in South Africa as All Ireland champions. We spent part of the trip at Sun City and naturally availed of the golf on site. One day as a group of us wound down our round I noticed Anthony running around the boundary of the golf course on his own, typically pushing himself. He was getting ready for 2015 and backed up his 2014 season by again driving us to the final that year.

“Anthony also managed to excel academically balancing his studies and work life expertly with football. Achieving a PhD while competing at an elite level places Anthony in an exclusive club.

“Fear is ea é a thug gach a bhí aige i gcónaí agus geansaí Chiarraí á chaitheamh aige. Guím gach rath air agus ar Meghan.”

Former Kerry boss Jack O’Connor.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Anthony Maher was top class as a footballer and as a leader in the dressing room,” outlined O’Connor.

“He was a great team player and commanded a lot of respect when he spoke. He is a very intelligent man and he brought that with him on the football field. Anthony was very modest but a fierce competitor when it came down to a battle. It’s a pity injury blighted the last couple of years of his career as he worked extremely hard to get himself right.

“His leadership and example will be a big loss to Kerry. I wish to congratulate Anthony on his career with Kerry and wish himself and Megan all the best for the future.”

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