Home Sport GAA 2022 Remembered: Long-serving Laois footballer Begley calls time on county career

2022 Remembered: Long-serving Laois footballer Begley calls time on county career

Colm Begley

Legendary Laois footballer, Colm Begley announced his inter-county retirement back in May.

Long-serving Laois footballer Colm Begley has officially announced his retirement from the county game, ending an association that stretches back 17 years to 2005.

Though Begley had informed this year’s management prior to the start of the season that he wouldn’t be involved, he had opted not to announce his decision to retire until now.

He made his debut in 2005 in his first year out of minor and while he spent four years playing professional Australian Rules, with the Brisbane Lions and then St Kilda, he was an ever-present from the time he returned for the 2010 season.

In all he played 131 times for Laois in competitive games, leaving him joint sixth in the overall list of Laois’s ‘most capped’ players, alongside Pat Brophy and behind only Ross Munnelly, Michael Lawlor, Padraig Clancy, John O’Loughlin and Fergal Byron.

An All Ireland minor winner in 2003, he made his debut under Mick O’Dwyer, initially as a full-back in the league, before making his first championship start at wing-back against Offaly in 2005.

He was on the side that contested that year’s Leinster final against Dublin and All Ireland quarter-final against Armagh.

But he was then signed by the Brisbane Lions in Australia and played three seasons with them before moving to St Kilda in Melbourne.

He returned home for the 2010 season when he played with Laois under Sean Dempsey, before then featuring under Justin McNulty, Tomas O Flatharta, Mick Lillis, Peter Creedon, John Sugrue and Mike Quirke.

A proud moment for Colm was lining out in championship football with his older brother Paul, one of a select number of families where brothers have played together in the blue and white.

An extremely versatile and athletic player, he played in a variety of roles in the half-back line, midfield and half-forward line but in recent years he was primarily at centre-back, where he played when Laois last reached a Leinster final in 2018.

He continues to play at club level with Stradbally, whom he helped to win senior titles with in 2005 and 2016.

“I recognise I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had a long inter-county career with Laois,” he said on a post on Twitter.

“It has greatly shaped who I am and would take too long to express the full importance and influence within my life.”

He posted a general thank you for the “memories, friendships, opportunities, challenges, highs and lows”.

“Thanks with providing me with an avenue to drive myself, to attach my passion and commitment to something I always felt proud to be a part of.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having had the opportunity to play county for Laois.

“I gave it all I can and hope that came across on the field. Lastly I would like to thank everyone I met on the way who supported and encouraged me.”

SEE ALSO – Check out all our 2022 Remembered stories here

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories