KIERAN DONAGHY SAYS that he feels now is the right time to announce his inter-county retirement following a stellar 14-year career with Kerry.
The 35-year-old confirmed his departure from Kerry on Tuesday and finishes up with four senior All-Ireland titles as well as the Footballer of the Year award in 2006. He also picked up three All-Stars in that time.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, he said his retirement has been coming over the past few years, but that he had ‘unfinished business’ with inter-county football after being dropped for the 2015 All-Ireland final.
“I just feel it’s time, it’s been on the cards for a few years,” he said.
“I was going to go in 2013. I was going to go after we won the All-Ireland in 2014. We won the county championship with [Austin] Stacks and I got the honour of captaining Kerry. That was huge for me.
I came back with a bit of unfinished business in 2015. The fact that I was dropped for a final and it didn’t go well for us, I felt I wanted to go back and give it another big shot.”
He continued by thanking the departing Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice for allowing him to continue to play basketball as well as committing himself to the Kerry team.
“I ended up giving it three [years] but the last four years have probably been up there with the most enjoyable of my career. I was playing, I was fit and healthy. It was enjoyable and it felt like it was bonus territory for me.
“I was able to play my basketball. Huge credit goes to Éamonn and the team for allowing me to play basketball and get my fitness up in so many ways and then to come back to the football and be accepted back into the family was unbelievable.”
Donaghy announced himself on the senior stage in 2006 with a superb performance against Longford in the qualifiers.
Kerry were struggling in the championship at the time and Donaghy ultimately turned their season around to inspire the Kingdom to All-Ireland success that year.
He subsequently earned the nickname ‘star’ and went on to play an integral role in Kerry’s All-Ireland triumph in 2014, scoring a decisive goal against Donegal in the decider at Croke Park.
Donaghy said he felt he was ‘going to battle’ on behalf of the Kerry people when he represented the green and gold and that he ‘played on the edge’ to make them proud of his performances.
“I’m a basketballer playing football,” he added. “It’s a role that I suppose not too many other fellas were doing [at the time].
“I was a basketball kid in Tralee who thought he was lucky enough to get a year as a minor so to go on and do that at senior level has been unbelievable. I can’t say how much really it means to me to be able to do that but I take huge pride in it as well.
“It meant everything. To represent the people of Kerry, to represent the county. I’m very aware of the history and the pressure that comes with that was something I loved and embraced.
“It’s where we’re from, I’m a big family man. For people who know me, I’m a pretty normal guy.
When I’m on the field and I’ve put that jersey on, it was a crest of honour. I was going into battle for this group of people, for this county and that’s why I was kind of so on the edge as a player.
“I just felt I had to bring that to get the best performance out of myself. It was something I never thought I would have done and to do it the way I have, to do it my way as well [was great].
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