By Niall Gartland
TYRONE joint-manager Feargal Logan has labelled the newly retired Ronan McNamee as the very definition of ‘Laochra Gael’ in a glowing tribute to one of the greatest ever full-backs to emerge from the county.
McNamee had worn the number three jersey with distinction since making his inter-county debut back in 2012 and he’s now taken the big decision to close the book on a long and successful career with Tyrone.
The 32-year old Aghyaran man made 133 appearances for the county, winning three Ulster Championship medals, an All-Star, and playing a full and memorable role in Tyrone’s journey to the promised land of a fourth ever All-Ireland SFC title in 2021.
And Tyrone joint-manager Logan says he has “nothing but respect” for the long-standing full-back who gave every last ounce of himself on the field of play.
“Ronan made a commitment to myself and Brian (Dooher) when we first came in, and he honoured that commitment in full. Brian and I have nothing but respect for him.
“He was the very definition of Laochra Gael because when he took to the field he was warrior-like every day he went out to play for Tyrone.
“He always found that extra yard, was very tidy in possession and very accurate. He married all that with being an old-school full-back so he is quite a footballer and quite a person.
“We don’t like to see Ronan going but he’s put his body through the wringer and everyone in Tyrone wishes Ronan and Clara all the best.”
McNamee was entrusted with marking some of the biggest names in the game en route to capturing the Sam Maguire in 2021. Not only was that a reflection of his pure ability, but also his undoubted mental resilience.
Logan said: “The bottom line is that Ronan marked them all in 2021 – David Clifford in the semi-final, Aidan O’Shea for a long period in the final. I remember he pulled off a brilliant block when O’Shea was inside and could have scored a goal.
“Ronan had an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, and he was physical enough to get the job done without being over the top with it.
“He was the type of lad who has an inherent strength that you don’t really culture in the gym. He was up near the Donegal border and was definitely a hardy boy.”
Tyrone have a rich tradition of producing elite full-backs down the decades and the abiding feeling is that McNamee was right up there in the pantheon with the very best of them.
Logan agreed with that assessment: “Without a doubt, we’ve had some great full backs down the years and the modern game has evolved in such a way that it demands even more from players in that position. You still have to go man-to-man and you’re expected to get up the field and do your bit. I just hope that proud lineage continues and Ronan certainly did his bit in the history of Tyrone GAA.”