GAA Football

Derry star Mark Lynch pays tribute to Gerard O'Kane, claiming '[he] will always be my captain'

Derry's Gerard O'Kane, seen here in action against Cian O'Sullivan of Dublin, has announced his retirement from inter-county football and has been widely praised for his contribution to Derry football. (Picture: Margaret McLaughlin)
Carl Toner

Current Derry star Mark Lynch has paid a handsome tribute to his former team mate Gerard O'Kane who has announced his retirement from inter-county football.

O'Kane, whose senior career for the Oak Leafers began in 2004 under Mickey Moran had the rare distinction of captaining his native county at minor, U21 and senior level.

In 2002, he lifted the Tom Markham cup on behalf of a team which included Banagher man Lynch - a day which was certainly the high point of his early inter-county career.

Reacting to the news, Lynch remarked: "Gerard was always my captain and will always be my captain."

After that auspicious start to life in the white and red of Derry, it appeared almost inevitable that much further success would follow for such a talented defender. A

National Football League medal - added in 2008 was, as is so often the case, as good as it got however.

Nevertheless, a player's worth is not solely measured in medals won and cups lifted and Derry County board also acknowledged the contribution of the 31-year-old to the cause of Derry football.

A statement said: "Over the past fifteen years, Gerard has been a mainstay and a constant of Derry football teams, having captained the county at minor, U21 and senior level.

"Our minor All-Ireland winning captain of 2002, Gerard has provided Derry supporters with many wonderful memories and has been a pleasure to work with at all times.

"We would like to sincerely thank Gerard, his family, and his club Glenullin for their much valued contribution and wish them all well in the near future, both on and off the pitch.

The current manager of the Derry seniors, Damian Baron also added his voice to the tributes.

"It's really only during the last year that I've gotten to know Gerard, but in that time I have been struck by his absolute commitment and dedication," said Barton.

"His attitude to training is exemplary, and as is evidenced by his playing record, his passion for the Derry jersey is second to none. I wish him, his family and his club the very best."

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GAA Football