Another member of Shamrock Rovers' Europa League side retires as Gary McCabe hangs up his boots

Sat, Feb 02 2019

McCabe spent six seasons with the Hoops and captained them in his final season in 2016. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Former Shamrock Rovers midfielder Gary McCabe has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 30.

The Tallaght native had spells with Bray Wanderers, Shelbourne and Sligo Rovers during a decorated career but his longest and most memorable spell came with his hometown club.

McCabe spent six seasons with the Hoops and helped the club to the league title in his first season, when they became the first Irish club to reach the group stages of the Europa League.

It was McCabe’s stunning equaliser in the first leg of the Europa League play-off against Partizan Belgrade in Tallaght that set Rovers on their way to a 3-2 aggregate win.

McCabe, who is the older brother of Republic of Ireland senior captain Katie McCabe, grew up just down the road from Tallaght Stadium in Kilnamanagh.

He also won two Setanta Sports Cup medals with the Hoops, in 2011 and 2013, while the club also won two Leinster Senior Cups in the same timeframe.

McCabe played schoolboy football with Crumlin United and graduated to the senior team, where he did enough to earn a move to League of Ireland Bray at the age of 19.

He spent three seasons with the Seagulls, taking a brief loan spell with Shelbourne, making 61 appearances and scoring nine times.

Sligo Rovers made a move for the playmaker in 2010 and he had a fruitful year at the Showgrounds, winning the FAI Cup and the EA Sports Cup double.

McCabe scored a penalty as Sligo saw off Rovers in the 2010 FAI Cup shootout, and his local club was his next destination, as he signed for the newly-crowned champions.

He flourished under Michael O’Neill and was a key part of the side that retained the title, and played in three of Rovers’ six Europa League group stage games.

McCabe was made captain for the 2016 season under Pat Fenlon but, at the end of a frustrating season that saw Fenlon sacked, he made the decision to return to Bray.

McCabe spent a season and a half at the Carlisle Grounds, leaving midway through the 2018 relegation season to sign for Leinster Senior League side Kilnamanagh.