Star shone bright in 2006 and ever since

Sean O’Sul­li­van played along­side Kieran Don­aghy and re­mem­bers a team mate who was an in­fec­tious char­ac­ter, a self­less player and a bril­liant foot­baller

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - SPORT -

Ican still re­call the first time I ever heard of Kieran ‘Star’ Don­aghy. My late un­cle Pa­trick was an avid foot­ball sup­porter and on his re­turn from the States in the late ’80s he rearly missed a game es­pe­cially ones on the lo­cal scene. He had an ar­range­ment with his younger brother, my fa­ther, that once the pa­pers were read in our house he’d call in af­ter din­ner and take them away for his pe­rusal. Pa­trick was the type of man who could tell you who got man of the match in the South Kerry fi­nal and what lat­est scrape Brit­ney Spears had got­ten her­self into all in the one breath. In other words the pa­per would be read front to back and to front again.

One par­tic­u­lar evening he landed a bit later than usual. He had been at a mi­nor game in Tralee in which Austin Stacks were play­ing. Of course he cor­nered me so he could talk about the match and I can still see his smile and hear his laugh when de­scrib­ing this tall, thin, young fella in the mid­dle of the field for Stacks.

“Do you know what they call him?” he said... “Star!”

My im­me­di­ate thought as a coun­try boy was that was just typ­i­cal of the town­ies. What an ar­ro­gant nick name to give some­one, es­pe­cially some­one who no­body had even heard of. But Pa­trick knew a baller when he saw one. “You know... he has some­thing about him. He could cause fierce prob­lems at the edge of the square.”

My un­cle passed away around Christ­mas of 2005 so never got to see his prediction re­alised and Kieran Don­aghy live up to the hype. When the fi­nal whis­tle went af­ter the 2007 All-Ire­land fi­nal my­self and Kieran ran arm in arm to Hill ’16 to cel­e­brate with the Kerry sup­port­ers. We had just won back-to-back Cham­pi­onships and he had played an­other huge part in both caus­ing fierce prob­lems on the edge of the square!

I think if you lined up ev­ery guy that has had the plea­sure of shar­ing a dress­ing room with Kieran – foot­ball or bas­ket­ball – and asked them what was the big man’s best qual­ity they will tell you the same

thing. Sure, he is a larger than life char­ac­ter, and I don’t just mean his height, and with­out a doubt he’s a guy who oozes self-con­fi­dence, but I have never met a player who puts the team be­fore him­self more than Don­aghy. For me he was the ul­ti­mate team­mate.

He ar­rived into the Kerry setup in 2005. I spent that par­tic­u­lar year trav­el­ing, but kept in touch with what was hap­pen­ing back home. I would have been in reg­u­lar con­tact with Diar­muid Mur­phy and re­call him men­tion­ing Kieran. By all ac­counts he had taken to the in­ter-county scene with no prob­lems at all, but had yet to see any con­sis­tent game time un­der Jack O’Con­nor. Murph of­ten re­marked what an in­fec­tious at­ti­tude Don­aghy had though, and that even for a young guy had no prob­lem speak­ing at team meet­ings and was al­ways will­ing to learn from those around him.

When I got back into the squad the fol­low­ing year Star was again only see­ing lim­ited time on the pitch and was used more as a re­place­ment mid­fielder more than any­where else. Af­ter win­ning the League all seemed to be go­ing well for us, but we came un­stuck in the Mun­ster Cham­pi­onship. Cork turned us over and we had to head for the Qual­i­fiers. To say that our year turned on the in­tro­duc­tion of Kieran at full for­ward is an un­der­state­ment. He was a rev­e­la­tion.

We had lacked a real fo­cal point to our at­tack when Gooch and Mike Frank Rus­sell were kept quiet and Star just brought a whole new di­men­sion to our at­tack. He would go on to lead us to glory that year and ever since has been a fan­tas­tic ser­vant to Kerry foot­ball.

He al­ways played with his heart, giv­ing ev­ery­thing he had for the Kerry jersey. Even in the past few sea­sons with a lot of miles on the clock he still had some­thing to of­fer and did so when asked, even if it killed him not to start ev­ery game. I think that was his best trait. His un­selfish­ness. Even when he suf­fered per­sonal dis­ap­point­ment he never let it show. He was all about the team.

I have never met a player who put the team be­fore him­self more than Don­aghy. For me he was the ul­ti­mate team­mate.

Kieran Don­aghy cel­e­brates with Colm Cooper af­ter scor­ing his sec­ond and Kerry’s third goal in the 2007 All-Ire­land SFC Fi­nal against Cork. TOP RIGHT: Kerry’s Kieran Don­aghy lifts the Sam Maguire Cup af­ter the 2006 Fi­nal BOT­TOM RIGHT: Don­aghy fol­low­ing the Mun­ster SFC Fi­nal win over Cork at Páirc Ui Chaoimh in CorkPho­tos by Sports­file

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.