Joe Bergin always gave his best for Galway
Joe Bergin’s decision to retire from inter-county football after 13 years playing senior for the county was not a huge surprise.
The past few years have been disappointing for Galway at senior level, especially in the qualifiers, and the nadir of a defeat to Antrim in the qualifiers this season was probably a factor in his decision.
Plus, Joe has been at the coalface of inter-county football for a long time and time moves on for every footballer.
His career started in a whirlwind of success and he lined out at midfield beside Seán Ó Domhnaill in the drawn All-Ireland final in 2000 against Kerry, and came on in the replay. He was selected as young footballer of the year that season.
Better was to follow, and he was at wing-forward in the All-Ireland success over Meath in 2001 and scored two points.
Joe's most successful years in the county jersey were in 2001 and in 2002, when he had the honour of captaining the county to victory in the All-Ireland u-21 final against Dublin.
Announcing his retirement, Joe said a busy work schedule with Ulster Bank, injury, and a desire to have a few more seasons with his club Mountbellew/Moylough, were the primary reasons for his decision.
While the past eight or nine years with Galway never saw Joe get the chance to replicate the success he had in his early years, he always gave of his best on the field of play and always made himself available to don the county jersey.
No doubt Joe would love to win a county senior title with Mountbellew/Moylough in the next few years and he was a key player for them when they advanced to the county final in 2009 and were unfortunate to lose after a replay.
If memory serves me correctly, he scored a stunning point from distance the first day to force the replay. I also remember him scoring a terrific 1-3 from play in 2011 in a classic game against Cortoon Shamrocks.
His club has not won a county title since 1986 and, if he could inspire them to win one over the next few seasons, it would no doubt bring him as much pleasure as anything else he has achieved in either a club or county jersey.