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13th Dec 2022

After 20 years, Ross Munnelly retires with short and sweet statement

Niall McIntyre

Ross Munnelly did his talking on the pitch.

For Laois, Ross Munnelly has been on the pitch since 2003, when he was first brought into the panel by Mick O’Dwyer as a 20-year-old. He’s almost twice that age now but, whatever it is, he still looks the same and right up until this year, he was moving very well too.

But even the most evergreen of stalwarts have to call it a day at some stage.

As it turns out, today was that day for Munnelly. This was his final year in blue and white with the Arles Kilcruise club-man concluding his inter-county playing days ‘with a smile on his face.’

He departs the inter-county scene as the longest serving inter-county player in Gaelic football along with Niall McNamee and, judging by the tributes that have poured in this morning, as one of its most respected.

Having played over 200 games for his county, it’s easy to see why. But more importantly, Munnelly was liked and admired by all he crossed paths with. He could be forgiven, given his longevity, for going on in his retirement statement but unassuming as ever, the 39-year-old kept it short ans weet.

“I wrote this note with a smile, as the time feels right to conclude my inter county playing days,” read the statement.

“Thank you Micko for giving me the chance to achieve my dream of playing for Laois in 2003. It has been both a privilege and an honour.

“My family have been my most loyal supporters and greatest inspiration. I will be forever grateful to my club Arles Kilcruise and all the people I shared the last 20 seasons with. An amazing experience with learnings and friendships that will last forever. Happy Christmas and thank you.”

His career highlight is surely that great Leinster final win under Micko in 2003 – Munnelly scored 1-1 from wing forward that day – though representing Ireland in the International Rules on toow occasions is another great honour. He was also nominated for an All-Star in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

It seemed like he could go on forever. In fairness, he nearly did.