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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

A duo in 1992, a trio in 2016 - the McHugh Donegal football family tradition

Ryan McHugh aims to repeat Donegal’s 2012 victory over Cork today.

Donegal footballer Ryan McHugh
Donegal footballer Ryan McHugh
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

WHEN DONEGAL LIFTED Sam in 1992, it was Martin and James who flew the McHugh family flag as the attacking brothers that helped wreak havoc on opposition defences.

Two decades later, Martin’s son Mark was an integral part of the Donegal team that attained similar glory.

When Donegal collided with Tyrone in the Ulster final recently, the McHugh numbers had swelled to three. The proud and vibrant family tradition is being upheld.

“It makes it that bit extra special,” admits Ryan McHugh.

“There’s myself, my brother Mark and Eoin’s our cousin. We’ve all got good game time. It would have been nice if we could have won Ulster.

“I’m 22, Eoin’s 22 in November and Mark is 26 in August. Eoin actually played the league semi-final against Cork in Croke Park last year but championship didn’t really work out.

“He’s doing well, he adds an extra dimension to the Donegal team, he brings a lot of pace to it. It makes that day that wee bit extra special going to Donegal games.

“The McHugh family have always been a proud family, my mum and dad always go to watch the games as does Eoin’s. They don’t miss many games.

“Dad and James are actually managing the club team in Kilcar at the moment. They’re heavily involved. I’m enjoying working with the two of them in Kilcar.”

With the McBrearty brothers, Patrick and Stephen, also involved, there’s a strong Kilcar contingent in the Donegal camp.

“There’s a full car that goes up every night up to training between the McHughs and the McBrearty’s,” says Ryan.

“You’d be giving yourself an hour going up to Letterkenny. It’s not so bad, you’ve a bit of company, it makes it a wee bit more craic.”

They’ve needed that camaraderie to pick themselves up from the floor after being shattered following their Ulster final loss.

“You put so much into it all year, your whole training regime is built around the Ulster championship,” admits Ryan.

“It’s just difficult, it’s mentally tough to do it. Putting such an emphasis on a provincial title, not coming out with a victory, it’s tough to take.

“The two weeks have been a big help. The six-day turnaround has been difficult as Roscommon proved. We’re definitely grateful. We have to pick ourselves up and get back up on the horse.”

The obstacle they have to surmount today is Cork. It conjures up memories of the counties last championship meeting back in 2012 when Ryan watched on as Donegal claimed a riveting victory.

“A great match from a Donegal point of view,” he recalls.

“One of the best matches Donegal have played. Cork were a great team that time, Donegal were going in as underdogs. If you ask a lot of the Donegal players, their great game, they’d nearly say that day.

“It was great to get back into an All-Ireland final for the first time since 1992. I remember Colm O’Neill got the goal, it made it exciting at the end but I think Donegal were the better team on the day and deserved their victory.”

AIB Ambassador Ryan McHugh Donegal player Ryan McHugh Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

AIB, proud sponsors of the GAA Football Championship, has teamed up with Donegal footballer Ryan McHugh in his hometown ahead of the Round 4A clash when the Chíll Chartha man will line out against Cork.

AIB, Backing Club & County, for exclusive content and to see why AIB believe Club Fuels County follow @AIB_GAA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

3 changes to Cork team for Donegal game while Cadogan and Walsh on bench

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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