Eamonn O'Hara

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Eamonn O'Hara
Personal information
Sport Gaelic football
Position Wing Forward
Born (1975-09-25) 25 September 1975 (age 38)
Tourlestrane, County Sligo
Club(s)
Years Club
? - present Tourlestrane
Club Titles
Sligo titles 7
Connacht titles 0
Inter-county(ies)
Years County
1994 - 2013 Sligo
Inter-county titles
Connacht titles 1
All Stars 1

Eamonn O'Hara (born 25 September 1975) was until 2013 the longest-serving Gaelic footballer at senior level.[1] He first played in 1994 and officially announced his retirement from inter-county football on 14 May 2013.

He played for his local club Tourlestrane and, though he also played for the Sligo senior inter county football team,[2] where he was a long-serving talisman on a weak team.[3] O'Hara still managed to win one All Star during his career and was twice called up for Ireland in the International Rules Series.

Playing career[edit]

O'Hara has had some success with his club team Tourlestrane, winning seven Sligo Senior Football Championships - in 1994, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011. He was a member of the Benada Abbey team which won the All-Ireland colleges B title in 1992, beating Edenderry in the final after a replay.[4]

O'Hara made his senior Sligo debut in 1994. He was named at centre forward in the 2002 All-Star football team, becoming only the third Sligo player in history to get an All Star.

In 2001[5] and 2002,[6] O'Hara played for Ireland against Australia in the International Rules Series.

O'Hara won a Connacht Senior Football Championship medal for Sligo in 2007. This victory made Sligo the Connacht champions for the first time since 1975.

O'Hara's inter-county career highlight was his scoring of a brilliant individual goal against Galway in the 2007 Connacht Senior Football Championship Final. His success at putting the football into the back of the net earned him a sponsorship deal of gold boots through parent company Nike.[7] Soon things returned to as they had been before. In 2008, Sligo were trashed by Mayo and ended up in the Tommy Murphy Cup following on from a league campaign that brought relegation to Division 4 - O'Hara said he was embarrassed by the rapid decline back into mediocrity.[8]

In January 2013, O Hara announced he would be taking a break from inter-county football due to work commitments, though suggested he would return some day. In May 2013, RTÉ announced him as an addition to their GAA analysis panel. He predicted that Galway would beat Mayo and Sligo would beat London and that Sligo and Galway would meet in the Connacht Final. In the end Mayo saw off Galway and London defeated Sligo.[9]

O'Hara later announced his retirement from inter-county football and said, "while Gaelic football has been, and continues to be a massive part of my life, I believe after nearly two decades wearing the Sligo jersey, the time is right for me to step aside. I do so knowing that I was very privileged to have played for my county, my province and my country."[10][11][12]

Punditry[edit]

No sooner had O'Hara landed his bottom into Joe Brolly's armchair at Montrose than his old team Sligo were off to London for their routine quarter-final holiday, Leitrim lying in wait in the semi-final when Sligo had their opening Connacht Championship match of 2013 out of the way. It proved to be their only match of Championship 2013. Sligo lost to London, giving The Exiles their first Connacht Championship victory since 1977 and the second in their history. With RTÉ concentrating on more important matters - the live big game of the day was reigning All-Ireland Champions Donegal's dismantling of Tyrone - O'Hara launched a stinging tirade at his former manager Kevin Walsh on national television and told him to resign. He gave his inside view of the chaos affecting the county as Pat Spillane peered down his nose over O'Hara's right shoulder, baffled at the news that a county like Sligo could be in an even worse state than Kerry.

There are a lot of problems within the county board from the top down. There is a lot of infighting and a lot of resignations at county board level. We have a centre of excellence that is at a standstill. The keys should be handed over on 1 June and that is not going to happen. There are a lot of problems there and Kevin Walsh's results over the last two years have gone unnoticed because of this infighting. He hasn't been held accountable to this. We got to a Connacht final last year but we're papering over the cracks. There are players there that deserve better quality of training and management and I think going forward Kevin should make the right decision for the sake of Sligo football and not anybody else.[13]

Then O'Hara called Walsh "crazy."[13][14]

Kevin Walsh came at the start of the year and he decided that he wanted full commitment from everybody from 1 November. He was asking players for commitment and a big commitment at that stage but he hadn't accepted the Sligo manager role at that stage. There were reports he had shown interest in the Roscommon job and he was waiting for that to come through, in terms of would he get it, or would he get an interview. For me, he was asking me at 37 years of age to commit to a training regime of four nights a week collective sessions on 1 November, it was crazy as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately work and everything else conspired against me committing to that and I said I would be available from 1 January. [...] Kevin Walsh made big calls this year and last year. Every one of them has come back to backfire against him. For me I think he lost the players throughout the year. [...] But they deserve better training sessions. They deserve better quality in terms of tactical awareness and stuff like that and that hasn't come. Kevin Walsh has a lot to answer for.[13]

Former Armagh footballer Oisín McConville said O'Hara was out of line with his outburst and pointed out that most teams, apart from those to have played in that year's All-Ireland final, go back training in November.[15][16][17] Following defeat to Derry in the next game and elimination from the Championship, Walsh resigned as Sligo boss.[18]

Honours[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Work commitments leave O'Hara's Sligo career up in air". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 4 January 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Player Focus: Sligo's Eamon O'Hara: Sligo's talisman walks tall". Sligo Weekender. 2002-05-09. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  3. ^ "Breheny on bench for Sligo". BreakingNews.ie. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011. "2002 All-Star and Sligo's long-term talisman Eamonn O'Hara will spearhead the attack once again. Incredibly, this will be O'Hara's 18th Senior Championship campaign - he made his debut as a teenager against Mayo in 1994." 
  4. ^ "Sligo: Profile". Hogan Stand. 
  5. ^ "Ireland destroy the Australians". Hogan Stand. 19 October 2001. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "Aussies lift Coca Cola Trophy". Hogan Stand. 20 October 2002. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gorgeous Gaels". Sunday Tribune. 29 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "O'Hara ’embarrassed’ by Sligo's fall from grace". Hogan Stand. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  9. ^ "O Hara Mayo will be caught cold". RTÉ Sport. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Yeats County legend Eamonn O'Hara has announced his retirement from inter-county football". RTÉ Sport. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Sligo's Eamonn O'Hara retires from inter-county football: Tourlestrane player bows out after 19 years". The Irish Times. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Cormican, Eoghan (15 May 2013). "Sligo pay tribute to departing O'Hara". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c "Eamonn O'Hara calls on Sligo boss Kevin Walsh to fall on his sword following loss to London". RTÉ Sport. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Reilly, Terry (27 May 2013). "Sligo legend O'Hara calls for Walsh to quit". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "O'Hara calls on Walsh to step down". Hogan Stand. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Nolan, Sean (27 May 2013). "Monday Morning Corner Back: O'Hara tears into Walsh, O'Briain on the Sunday Game and prediction woes". JOE. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  17. ^ "McConville: O'Hara has 'personal axe to grind' with Sligo boss Walsh". Irish Examiner. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Kevin Walsh steps down as Sligo senior football manager". RTÉ Sport. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.