Padraig Joyce’s inevitable bow to retirement yesterday morning carried little surprise, but it still did not deaden the pain for supporters who have admired him for many years.
We knew this day was coming, but when great players, such as PJ, take their leave, it still leaves you grieving a little for what has past.
PJ’s greatness is not in doubt. It cannot just be measured in his two All-Ireland medals from 1998 and 2001 and three All-Star gongs, because his career was worth far more than his haul of silver.
In Galway football, his legacy will rest in another stratosphere to the rest of us, up there alongside Sean Purcell as one of the finest we ever produced.
For all that, in the dressing room he hid it well. He was always laidback and calm, but then perhaps he always knew he had the talent to fall back on - possessing a football brain that doubled as a computer and a left foot that might as well have been a surgeon’s scalpel.
The composure he showed to score that goal in the 1998 final against Kildare, that second half performance in 2001 against Meath, when, after an off-colour opening half, he nailed nine in the second, five from play.
What set PJ apart was his longevity. He remained one of the top forwards in the game, but sometimes lacked the quality around him to showpiece that on a national level.
He won four counties with Killererin, 1999, 2004, 07 and 10, and those titles came via his prolific left foot, posting ridiculous scores, both in quality and quantity. Even this year he hit three goals in one championship outing.
There is a serious rebuilding job to be done in Galway football, and while we are laying those blocks, PJ can rest easy in the knowledge he served the county and the trade as well as any who came before him.
It is a honour to say that I played with him.