The announcement yesterday evening by Ger Cafferkey calling time on his inter-county career didn’t come as a surprise. It does, though, mark another loosening of the ties between the current playing panel and the group, Ger included, who represented the county with such distinction throughout this decade.
Full-back on the Minor team that made it all the way to the All-Ireland final in 2005, Ger wore the no.3 jersey the following year on the U21 team that captured the All-Ireland title. That famed Class of ’06 would go on to become the backbone of the Senior team that, in James Horan’s words, made Mayo consistently competitive at national level for several years.
The Ballina Stephenites player continued to see Championship action at U21 level in 2007 and again in 2008 – winning two further Connacht medals in the process – before breaking through at Senior level in 2009. It was on his home ground at James Stephens Park that Ger first lined out for the county – at full-back, where he was stationed, often with precious little in the way of back-up, throughout his time at inter-county level – in a National League match against Derry.
In May 2009 – along with Kevin McLoughlin, Donal Vaughan and Aidan O’Shea – Ger made his Championship debut for Mayo over at Gaelic Park against New York. In total, he would go on to make 104 appearances for the county at Senior level. He would surely have added significantly to this total but for the bad run of injuries he sustained down the years.
The worst of these saw him sidelined for fifteen months when he tore his hamstring badly against Roscommon in March 2016. It wasn’t until we faced Sligo in the first round of the Connacht Championship the following May before he was back in the starting fifteen for us again.
Always a cultured full-back, a man who eschewed the more underhand tactics that many players donning the no.3 jersey tend to deploy, Ger enjoyed his best years at inter-county level during James Horan’s first stint in charge. It was then – in 2012 – that he won an All-Star and he was nominated for one again the following year.
A winner of six Connacht Championship medals in a career that saw him start in the 2012 and 2013 All-Ireland finals as well as appearing off the bench in the 2017 decider, Ger last lined out for the county in the Championship against Kildare on that fateful evening in Newbridge in June 2018.
A storming performance in this year’s League campaign against Cavan – which saw him pick up the MOTM award here on the blog – was followed by an appearance against Dublin at Croke Park, where, once again, he was forced to withdraw with an injury. That would prove to be his final ever appearance for the county.
Still only 32, it’s safe to assume that Ger has a good while to go yet at club level before hanging up his boots. Indeed, with the Stephenites once more on the up, his medal haul might not yet be completed either. But Ger’s time at inter-county level is over and he deserves our thanks and praise for all he contributed to the cause during the years in which he was involved. Thanks for everything Ger and best wishes for the future.