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Dublin: 9°C Monday 10 May 2021

Mark McHugh on leaving Donegal's panel, New York travel and supporting brother Ryan

The 2012 All-Ireland winner has no regrets at not being part of the current squad.

Mark McHugh at the launch of the FBD Kilmacud Football 7's. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Leaving the panel…

“The decision I made I have no regrets. I felt at the time I left, I just needed a break. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing and me being there didn’t help the mood in the camp.

“And I thought its not good for me being here and it’s probably not good for other players so I stepped away. Going away was a decision I made and I knew I wouldn’t be in the team if I stepped away. I made that decision.”

Wanting to travel…

“When I was growing up with football and stuff, I just couldn’t really do it because of the circumstances. I turned 24 a few weeks ago and said I need to this now. I enjoyed my experience in New York and if I didn’t do it this year I would never have done it.

“If I didn’t do it my main regret would have been not going away for the summer and enjoying myself and seeing a bit of the world. Now I can say that I have my All-Ireland medal and I’ve travelled to America. Hopefully, there’s more things to come down the line.”

Telling Jim McGuinness…

“It wasn’t a decision I made over night or anything. I thought about it for a long time. When I spoke to him I told him how I felt and where I was at and that was it. We had a chat for a long time.

“I said I’m not enjoying myself and that for myself going down the road I am probably better stepping away now and taking a break. I’ve been on the panel for a number of years and I said I’m thinking of travelling to America and he respected it. Jim is a gentleman and what he has done for Donegal football is incredible. I have total respect for him.”

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rejoining the panel…

“I don’t think it would be fair on the players. You couldn’t really go away for a whole summer and not train with the team and come back in and think you are good enough to take over another person’s position who has been playing and training all year.

“Jim himself knew he couldn’t ask me back in. It didn’t cross my mind. People in the street say that to you but they don’t know the ins and outs of what Gaelic football is these days. You can’t go away for ten weeks and not train. Every county team is all or nothing. If you step out of line or miss training it will set you back.”

Supporting Donegal…

“I’m back and I’m fully behind the Donegal team. I’m delighted for Ryan and how he is performing. I’m praying for a Donegal victory.

“With Ryan doing so well – it’s not even regrets not to be playing. I thought about it for long enough and said ‘what happens if Donegal get to an All-Ireland final or win an All-Ireland?’ but where I was at that time, I knew I just needed a break.

“I’m delighted for the lads and chat to them daily. I really hope they win on Sunday week, especially for Ryan. It would be great for another McHugh to get an All-Ireland medal, superb for him.”

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Looking forward…

“Now I’m looking forward to the All-Ireland final and rebuilding for next year of myself and the club championship, playing well and hopefully with Jim next year or whoever that may be and ask me back into the panel.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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