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Donegal All-Ireland winner and 'real leader' retires from inter-county football

Declan Bonner confirmed Leo McLoone’s exit to local media outlets today.

Wave goodbye: Leo McLoone.
Wave goodbye: Leo McLoone.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

2012 ALL-IRELAND WINNER Leo McLoone’s retirement from inter-county football has been confirmed by Donegal manager Declan Bonner.

Numerous local media outlets are reporting that Bonner confirmed the news today.

31-year-old McLoone is understood to have stepped aside before the 2020 inter-county season campaign got underway, following a successful 2019 with his club, Naomh Conaill.

As well as that coveted Celtic Cross, McLoone has helped Donegal to five Ulster senior titles in a colourful career. He made his debut under Brian McIver in 2008, while his championship bow came against Carlow the following year.

The forward stepped away from inter-county football in 2017 after finding himself out of favour the season before. McLoone, a key part of Jim McGuinness’ All-Ireland winning squad in 2012, won a Donegal senior championship in October, and lined out in midfield for the Glenties side that went down to Kilcoo in the Ulster final. 

“Leo [was] a brilliant servant, there for over a decade,” Bonner told Highland Radio this afternoon. “He picked up a lot of titles along the way, and was a real leader. 

“Over the years that I’ve had him, he’s been a big, big leader within the group. [He is] a big, big loss, no more than Frank [McGlynn] is, and we wish him well.”

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jim-mcguinness-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle-with-leo-mcloone Celebrating with McGuinness in 2012. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“In the Autumn time, he had indicated that he was going to step away from the demands of inter-county — there’s huge demands at that level now — and he confirmed then just over the Christmas that he wouldn’t be coming back,” Bonner added.

“He’s been a great player for Donegal, a real strong, powerful player who could play in numerous positions. He’s going to be a loss for the group.”

After opening their Allianz National League campaign with a draw against Mayo, Donegal now face newly-promoted Meath in Navan on Sunday.

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