THANKS FOR THE MEM­O­RIES STAR

‘Star’ pays trib­ute to team­mates and fans

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL BREN­NAN

THE King­dom is united in giv­ing thanks to one of its great­est sons this week fol­low­ing the news that Tralee’s ‘Star’ Kieran Don­aghy is to re­tire from in­ter-county foot­ball.

The four-time All-Ire­land win­ner, three-time All Star award re­cip­i­ent and 2006 Foot­baller of the Year made the an­nounce­ment on Tues­day.

In his state­ment the Austin Stacks man quoted the great John B Keane to say that he had been ‘one lucky hoor’.

In fact, the real ‘lucky hoors’ were those of us who got to see the big man in ac­tion in the green and gold over these past 14 sea­sons.

“The jour­ney has been full of ups and downs but I never wanted it to end,” Don­aghy said. “It has sur­passed even my wildest dreams, that a bas­ket­ball kid from Tralee would end up play­ing 69 times in the cham­pi­onship over a 14-year pe­riod for the fa­mous Green and Gold.

Don­aghy, who was al­ways a firm favourite with the Kerry sup­port­ers and al­ways gave gen­er­ously of his time with those sup­port­ers re­cip­ro­cated that ap­pre­ci­a­tion in his state­ment.

“A huge thank you to the loyal Kerry fans who trav­elled far and wide to watch and sup­port us. We love foot­ball in this county and while there is a pres­sure to per­form we al­ways em­brace it. We need to get be­hind this young team we will have next year, so get the flags out and get to the games to sup­port the boys.”

Tributes have poured in since news of his re­tire­ment emerged on Tues­day morn­ing.

Thank you for the mem­o­ries, Kieran. We wish you well.

AF­TER 14 sea­sons tor­ment­ing full backs Kieran Don­aghy has stepped away from in­ter-county foot­ball with four All-Ire­land medals and the knowl­edge that he re-in­vented full for­ward play for the best part of a decade.

The 35-year Austin Stacks club man an­nounced his re­tire­ment as a Kerry foot­ball on Tues­day morn­ing and the tributes for a tal­ented and much loved and re­spected foot­baller have been flood­ing in since from team mates, op­po­nents and the wider pub­lic since.

Af­ter 69 Cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance and a se­nior ca­reer that goes back to 2005 Don­aghy’s de­ci­sion to walk away from the Kerry team came as no sur­prise, even if the tim­ing of his an­nounce­ment took most people off-guard given that he’s in the mid­dle of a county cham­pi­onship cam­paign with Stacks.

Per­haps with a new team man­ager to be named in the next three weeks Don­aghy felt it was bet­ter to step away now on his own terms, and former man­agers Ea­monn Fitz­mau­rice and Jack O’Con­nor led the tributes for a player who was very much the dar­ling of the Kerry sup­port­ers.

“The jour­ney has been full of ups and downs but I never wanted it to end,” Don­aghy said. “It has sur­passed even my wildest dreams, that a bas­ket­ball kid from Tralee would end up play­ing 69 times in the cham­pi­onship over a 14-year pe­riod for the fa­mous Green and Gold.

“To ev­ery one of my Kerry team­mates who I was lucky enough to have played with, I thank you for your pa­tience, help and ad­vice dur­ing those years. I’m blessed to have had the time of my life with you boys fight­ing on my back try­ing to win games for Kerry. We had some tough times, such is life but the won­der­ful sto­ries and mem­o­ries we shared will stick with me for­ever.

“To get the op­por­tu­nity to sol­dier with and against some of the great­est play­ers of all time is some­thing I will al­ways trea­sure.

“Dur­ing my ca­reer I have been lucky enough to work with some great Kerry man­agers and their re­spec­tive man­age­ment teams. They took a chance on me, be­lieved in me in mas­sive high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions. They gave me the con­fi­dence to de­velop my game which al­lowed me to per­form on the big­gest of oc­ca­sions for Kerry.”

Jack O’Con­nor, who handed Don­aghy his se­nior Cham­pi­onship de­but, said: “He had a bril­liant com­bi­na­tion of size, strength, agility and great hands. His bas­ket­ball knowl­edge and skill played a huge part in his game.

“Kieran had an in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm and proved a hard man for any de­fence. His tem­per­a­ment was ideal and he was a real team player.

“Bomber Lis­ton was a cen­tral fea­ture of Mick O’Dwyer’s great team and I would say that Kieran Don­naghy is the same cat­e­gory as the Bomber and he un­doubt­edly was the ‘Bomber’ of our team.”

Fitz­mau­rice, who stepped down as team man­ager last month, said Don­aghy has the at­tributes to be a man­ager him­self, and praised his char­ac­ter and re­silience as a foot­baller over the last 14 years.

“His phys­i­cal at­tributes and bas­ket­ball back­ground meant he was out­stand­ing as the ful­crum of the at­tack. His big­gest as­set, how­ever, is un­doubt­edly his per­son­al­ity cou­pled with an un­matched en­ergy. His will to win and de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed are what make him dif­fer­ent,” Fitz­mau­rice said.

“He over­came plenty of dis­ap­point­ments to come back bet­ter and stronger. A snap­shot of the 2014 sea­son epit­o­mised his re­silience where he failed to see game time in the All Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal but ended up ab­so­lutely cen­tral to that All Ire­land win.

“He has the per­son­al­ity to go into man­age­ment. He is the ul­ti­mate team player, has a strong ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the team dy­namic, pos­sesses a great tac­ti­cal un­der­stand­ing of the game and most im­por­tantly is brim­ming with ideas. I can def­i­nitely see him suc­cess­fully man­ag­ing Kerry teams in the fu­ture.”

Don­aghy, who was al­ways a firm favourite with the Kerry sup­port­ers and al­ways gave gen­er­ously of his time with those sup­port­ers re­cip­ro­cated that ap­pre­ci­a­tion in his state­ment.

“A huge thank you to the loyal Kerry fans who trav­elled far and wide to watch and sup­port us. We love foot­ball in this county and while there is a pres­sure to per­form we al­ways em­brace it. We need to get be­hind this young team we will have next year, so get the flags out and get to the games to sup­port the boys.”

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/ Sports­file

KIERAN AND SAM: The Star hoist­ing the Sam Maguire Cup af­ter Kerry’s vic­tory over Done­gal in the 2014 All Ire­land Se­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Fi­nal.

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