By Odhrán Crumley
A Tyrone legend and possibly the most versatile player to ever play the game has today announced his inter county retirement at the age of 33 after a combination of injuries over the past two seasons.
The Omagh native has been a mainstay for Mickey Harte’s side for the past decade after making his championship debut in 2004. The proud owner of two Celtic Crosses thanks to All Ireland successes in 2005 and 2008 alongside four Ulster title ensure ‘Big Joe’ does not leave the inter county arena empty handed.
In 2008 and throughout his career no one could nail down what exactly was Joe McMahon’s actual position as was his natural talent in adapting to whatever role he was needed to play in helping his county get over the line. In the 2008 All Ireland Final he lined out at number twelve but spent most of the game beside brother Justin at full back keeping Kerry’s ‘Twin Towers’ of Tommy Walsh and Kieran Donaghey to a solitary point.
Famous for his beard setting the trend for team mates such as Ciaran Gourley, Owen Mulligan and Martin Penrose to follow throughout that triumphant 2008 campaign as Tyrone came from the first round of the qualifiers to lift the Sam Maguire. A favourite amongst the supporters for his work rate, reliability and never say die attitude. The image most Tyrone supporters recall when his name is mentioned, is McMahon reeling away in celebration sporting the famous beard, ghosting in to score Tyrone’s second goal in their 3-14 to 1-8 hammering of Dublin during 2008’s rain soaked Quarter Final. (Pictured Below, Right)
McMahon’s retirement is somewhat forced after a long battle with various injuries limiting his involvement over the past two seasons. The two time All Ireland winner stated, “the struggle to respond to treatment to gain the fitness required at this level” has led to the decision. I have pushed myself to the limits working closely with the Tyrone medical team but I have to accept the reality that it is my body which is saying it’s game over.”
On his thirteen years of county football McMahon added, “I was very fortunate to have played with and against some of the greatest players to have graced the game and under one the GAA’s greatest managers, Mickey Harte. I am so indebted to those who helped me along the way- my wife Geraldine and I must mention my children Aoibhe, Anna and Joseph, my parents, family, friends and my club Omagh St Enda’s, my former schools Omagh CBS and St Conor’s P.S and St Mary’s College Belfast.”
“I acknowledge the support of the Tyrone backroom teams and the friendship of Mickey Moynagh over the years. The GPA has also been a great help in time of need. I can reflect now on the elements that make Tyrone such a passionate county for its football- the County Board, Club Tyrone and the loyal supporters with their families. I thank all of them for the generosity of their time and resources and for the brilliant memories shared.”
He also had a message for the rest of the Tyrone footballers on the panel he now departs, “I wish all my colleagues in the 2017 squad every success for the championship ahead. I say to them, enjoy all your days with Tyrone. There is no greater honour than pulling on the jersey.”
The 33 year old hopes to continue playing for his club Omagh, St.Enda’s.
A sad day for Tyrone football seeing a legend held in the esteem of Joe McMahon retiring, a player immortalised as part of the Red Hand’s ‘Golden Generation’ throughout the noughties.
Thanks for the memories, Joe!