LONG serving Offaly senior football goalkeeper Alan Mulhall has retitred from inter-county football after giving years of service.
The Walsh Island man made 88 league and championship appearances for Offaly from 2004 until 2018 and he has been the established first choice goalkeeper since 2009.
He was rock steady between the posts,. After a few hairy moments in the early days as he adjusted to life between the posts, Mulhall developed into a very reliable last line of defence. Good under the high ball, he was an excellent shot stopper, a fine communicator with his defence and he had a consistent long kickout with the ability to place players.
Unfortunately he did not have much success during his career, apart from winning a Division 2 National Football League medal back in 2004 and a couple of Division 4 ones after that. His career co-incided during a spell when Offaly struggled badly, making abrupt exits from the Leinster championship and qualifiers and generally swinging between division 3 and 4 football.
While he made his debut in 2004, he did not feature under Kevin Kilmurray as Offaly played in Division 1 for a couple of years and reached the Leinster final in 2006 where they were beaten by Dublin – the last time Offaly mounted a genuine challenge in the province.
Mulhall had been on Gerry Fahy's squad as Offaly won promotion to Division 1 in 2004, coming on as a sub in the league wins over Clare and Leitrim, when he scored a goal. Galway man Fahy resigned after narrowly winning a vote to retain his position at a County Board meeting and this was followed by a players' strike before peace of sorts emerged after a Eugene McGee drafted agreement between the board and players.
It was a tumultuous period for all involved but Mulhall was a peripheral figure and did not play again for Offaly until 2008, coming on in a championship defeat by Westmeath.
At that stage, he was considered mainly as a forward and it was as an option for full forward that Gerry Fahy and selectors Matt Connor and Mark Plunkett had initially drafted him into the panel a few years earlier. He played almost all his football for Walsh Island out the field, generally full forward, centre half forward and midfield. He had the talent to be a ball winning full forward for the county. He possesses an excellent pair of hands, a good footballing brain and is accuratre from play and frees – his free striking off the ground has been a big feature of his career.
However, Mulhall was unable to get his fitness up to the required level to play a forward role at the highest level and tough physical training proved challenging for him, even though his commitment and determination to play for his county was very evident. It soon became clear to Mulhall, county managers and most observers that his county future lay in goals and it was in this role that he has excelled for over a decade.
He first started iun goals in a league defeat by Roscommon on 2009 and the number one jersey has been more or less his ever since then.
With a new manager John Maughan at the helm this year, Mulhall has decided to call it a day and he does so with his head held high. During his career Offaly endured far more bad days than good days but he always put his shoulder to the wheel and they didn't have to worry about conceding soft goals.
His contribution to the GAA has gone deeper than his county role. He was a full time Coaching and Games Promotion manager in Offaly for a numbr of years, overseeing the underage coaching structures, before being promoted to a job with Leinster Council while he is currently chairman of Walsh Island GAA Club.