Oisín McConville calls time on remarkable career
Crossmaglen and Armagh legend Oisín McConville has called it a day and has retired from football at the age of 37.
He was also part of the history making Crossmaglen team that won 13 Armagh senior club titles in a row from 1996 to 2008.
McConville was also part of the Armagh teams that dominated Ulster in the late 90’s and 2000’s, picking up 7 Ulster championship medals which culminated in the pinnacle of his inter-county career with all Ireland county success.
He played a major role in bringing the Sam Maguire to Armagh in 2002, famously missing a penalty against Kerry but then going on to score a wonder goal that helped bring the title to the Orchard County for the first time in their history.
He also picked up 2 coveted All Star awards during his time with Armagh.
McConville said on Sunday that he made the decision at the start of the season that this was going to be his last year. “It didn’t matter this year what happened, if Cross were beaten in the first round of the Armagh club championship or won an all Ireland I knew I was retiring.
“I was starting to miss more and more training sessions because of a few injuries and it began to take its toll. I made the announcement today because in about 2 or 3 months time I could be easily persuaded to stay on.”
After 20 years playing in the Crossmaglen senior team, in which he played in an incredible 103 consecutive Championship games – only missing one match against Armagh Harps in 2009 due to injury – McConville insists he is very comfortable with his decision.
“I am very comfortable with my decision, it is the right time for me to quit although of course it pains me but I am heartened to know that Cross will still remain competitive for many years to come with the quality of the younger players on the panel.”
In a career that seen the Cross man amass an incredible amount of silverware Oisín singled out the 2007 Club All Ireland victory as his favourite. “For purely selfish reasons the 2007 Club All Ireland with Cross would be my favourite, just because I was lucky enough to be the captain of that team, it stands out for me.
What next for the man that has won it all at the highest level? McConville intends on taking a break from the game that he gave so much of his life to but hopes to persue a possible career in coaching.
He said that he could maybe enter management one day but only if it was with Armagh or Crossmaglen. “I am going to take time away from the game, maybe one or two years.
“I’ve always loved the coaching side of the game, I am not too sure about management but I would like to get involved with the underage teams, no pressure involved and I will take it from there.”
Away from his football career McConville went public in 2007 about his gambling addiction which left him with debts in excess of £100,000. In his book The Gambler he writes about how his gambling “spiralled out of control”, seeing him in one day loose £10,000.
McConville recalled, “I went out to the car and gathered together maybe £8 and went back (to the bookies) and had another bet. When I was driving home, the diesel light was on my car and I almost didn’t have enough to get home. At that point, I just said to myself: ‘I can’t go on like this anymore’.”
Oisín opened the door for many others within the GAA and also for those not affiliated to the Association to come forward and get help for their addictions, like on the football pitch he displayed great courage while dealing with his gambling addiction.
McConville’s GAA career is probably the most successful one in the Associations history. There will be a big void in the Crossmaglen dressing room next season.
Oisín McConville’s honours:
Armagh Championships: 16
Ulster Championships: 10
From 1994-2008 Oisín made 52 appearances for Armagh, scoring a total of 11-197, total of 230 points making him the highest scoring footballer in Ulster GAA history.
Ulster Championship: 7
All Ireland Championship: 1
National Football League: 1
All Stars: 2 (2000 and 2002)
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