As I cast my mind back to the mid eighties, I can recall one of my earliest sporting memories as a sprightly nine year old playing in a keenly contested Under 10 match against local rivals Moneyglass.
Monday, 20 August 2012
Up in the heart of AP McCoy country, my direct opponent that day was a small, pale skinned chap with the most humungous set of square shoulders that would not have been out of place on an American football pitch.
Even at such a young age your human instincts are good at identifying what a special footballer looks like. The kid in question had everything, not least this most mesmerising dummy that later became known as the Brady shuffle.
There were two players that really stood out in my early underage days. One was a lad called Micky Johnston from Creggan, the other Kevin Brady. Little did I know back then, that I would spend ten great years playing alongside Kevin in my county colours, becoming good friends in the process.
There was a stage around the early 'noughties' when Kevin was completely unmarkable and there wasn't a team in the country that he wouldn't have made.
After announcing his retirement last week, many will remember Kevin for his performance against Derry in the Ulster Semi-Final of 2000, where he smashed in two late goals to help us earn a replay.
There were lots of games when he dazzled. I actually remember playing Armagh one day in a McKenna Cup game in Casement, and his direct opponent was tortured to the degree that he was throwing up on the end-line before being withdrawn after just twenty five minutes.
Performances, there were many, but to give fifteen consecutive seasons to the Saffron cause is unbelievable. With barely a medal to show for it, there was never an occasion when Kevin considered walking away nor do I recall him ever even questioning the judgement of the many managers we played under.
In a retirement piece with Brendan Crossan of the Irish News during the week, he revealed that life as an Inter-County forward is a lot less enjoyable now than it was five or ten years ago. Never one to complain, his verdict had nothing to do with the increased physical demands, the time constraints or even the fact that he is past his peak.
Brady cited the modern day tactics that have evolved from Tyrone and Armagh in the early noughties, adapted and brought to a more extreme level by Donegal. Most county teams are now set up similarly and even though they don't necessarily have the players to execute it, many club teams are playing the same way.
Watching a forward with the calibre of Steven O'Neill or Colm Copper in a one on one situation is about as common as Joe Brolly on a sponsored silence.
Unfortunately, our game has become more like a mix between rugby league and Australian Rules, but time is a great healer, and no doubt more positive tactics will come around again soon.
Who knows what the future holds, or what the in craze will be in five years time. But if it's more of the same, we can be sure of one thing. We won't see the likes of Kevin Brady again.