Eamon McGee and Karl Lacey enjoy that winning feeling at Croke Park.
Former Donegal player Eamon McGee said the young players in the county squad now need to step up to fill the void left by the departure of Karl Lacey.
The Four Masters clubman announced his retirement from intercounty football on Thursday night.
And his former county colleague Eamon McGee, in paying his own tribute to the four-time All-Star, said the younger players with Donegal need to step up to the mark, now that another senior players has gone.
McGee was a special guest on Highland Radio’s ‘Ten to One’ show on Friday morning and recalled first teaming up with Lacey in a County U-14 development squad.
“Karl Lacey was a player who stood out,” McGee said.
“Back then, you knew Karl was going to be something special.
“I’ve always tried to get to Karl’s level, but he was always able to move ahead. Once you got up to a certain level with Karl, he would move on to another level.
“He was always a good go-to guy for me. He was always someone I respected, and he’s a good friend of mine. We have shared a good portion of our lives together.”
The Gaoth Dobhair clubman said Lacey was one of the best.
“When he is winning All Stars when Donegal weren’t going well pre the Jim McGuinness era, it shows the calibre of player he was,” he said.
“When you see the level of respect he has when you come up against other counties, that’s when you know you’re something special.”
McGee said there’s a top tier of player in GAA which includes the likes of Michael Murphy and Dublin’s Diarmaid Connolly. He said Lacey was also in that tier.
“It didn’t matter if he played for Carlow or Leitrim, he was always going to be one of those stand-out players,” McGee said.
He added: “He was an important part of the dressing room. The lads were learning from him so it’s up to them now to step up to the plate and fill that void. It’s going to be a massive void, there’s no point in saying otherwise. But that’s part of the process and the new Donegal manager needs to see that.”