Senan Kilbride decided to retire from inter-county football this week.
The talented forward has been a key player for Roscommon since his Championship debut in 2008, and has had a distinguished club career with St. Brigid’s.
Senan’s brother Ian has also impressed for club and county over the past number of years, and their father Sean played for both Roscommon and Mayo in the 1980’s.
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay described the primary school teacher as “a total team player,” and perhaps the full forward hasn’t received the plaudits he’s deserved over the years.
“Senan was a total team player,” McStay told the Irish Times yesterday.
“It didn’t matter who got the praise as long as the team was winning. A big fella, with a big heart. He was great to work with. I couldn’t speak highly enough of him.”
McStay also added that Kilbride has “one of the most beautiful touches you’ll see from a footballer for a big man.”
I remember visiting my grandmother in Curraghboy (St. Brigid’s parish) in 2013, and making the short journey to watch St. Bridgid’s in a league match at Newpark.
I was taken aback by the quality of Kevin McStay’s team, who I rank as one of the best club teams I’ve ever witnessed live. There were a host of impressive performances from the likes of Karol Mannion, but no man was more impressive on the day than Senan Kilbride.
The big man played at full forward, and everything revolved around him. He was strong, clever, hardworking and unerringly accurate.
Brigid’s would go on to win the All Ireland that year, with Kilbride bagging 1-5 in the Connacht final, and 1-3 in the All Ireland final against Ballymun Kickhams.
The left footed forward has won nine county titles, four provincial titles and one All Ireland for his club to date.
Kilbride won a couple of league titles with the Rossies (Division 2 and Division 3), but unfortunately, the classy forward missed Roscommon’s 2010 provincial win due to injury, and he was the man of the match as Roscommon overcame Down to win the Division 2 title in 2015.
A player of his quality arguably deserved more from an eight year county career.
“I said to him the other night that I was so glad that our paths had crossed, and that we had had a day out in the sun at club level,” McStay said. “It was just a shame we didn’t have the time to replicate it at county level.”
In terms of his county career, perhaps Kilbride was the right player at the wrong time.
He was just too early for Roscommon’s spell of underage dominance at minor and u21 level, and it took him three years to make his Championship debut (due to injury and illness) after making his first league appearance in 2005.
He still managed to score 3-35 in his first 15 Championship games for the county, and any casual observations that Kilbride struggled to make the step up to county football are lazy and unjustified.
Roscommon have lost one hell of a player.