One of the most iconic inter-county careers of this era has drawn to a close: Kieran Donaghy has today called time on his stint with Kerry.
Donaghy, now 35, made his first appearance for Kerry in 2004 but it was his move to full-forward in 2006 that set a successful template that was copied across the country. Donaghy won eight Munster titles and four All-Irelands. He was thrice an All-Star and was Player of the Year in 2006.
Donaghy confirmed the news via a poem on Twitter:
Up to Croker in '97, my dream it began
Standing in the Nally, I said, 'Maybe I can'
The famine was ended and Kerry were back
As a minor four years later, I'd give it a crack
Thank God I'm from Kerry, we sure are the best
History, tradition, St Brendan on the crest
I played right on the edge, not a backward step taken
Will I ever apologise? You must be mistaken
By God it was special, the Green and Gold on my back,
I did my job well, in the air I'd attack,
To the jersey I love you, I wore you with pride
Didn't win them all but so hard I tried.
The future is exciting, we must support our team,
It's been so emotional and we've shared the dream
That's a big part of it, that's what we're about
It's the jersey, it's Kerry, it's 'Up the Kingdom!' we shout
I'll never forget ye, ye know who ye are,
Bonded forever, on the pitch, at the bar
We climbed all the mountains, they look good from the top
Celtic crosses in our pockets, those memories won't stop
Fitzgerald Stadium was home, it was where I kicked my last ball
After hugging my brothers, the tears they did fall
It shouldn't be sad, we were good for eachother
Now's the right time to hand it to another
The next chapter is here, Oh I can't wait
No ifs, no buts, only total faith
Hilary, Lola Rose, and Indie by my side
Made it a no brainer to eventually decide
My Kerry, my family, my mom and my nan,
Donaghys, O'Connors and Fitzgeralds are my clan,
This sums up my journey and one thing's for sure,
In the words of John B, 'I'm one lucky hoor'.
— Kieran Donaghy (@starryboy14) September 11, 2018
Donaghy also released a statement on the Kerry GAA website, in which he thanked Kerry, his club and his family. Kerry Chairman Tim Murphy hailed Donaghy as one of Kerry's greatest servants.
Kieran’s retirement today brings an end to the inter county playing career of one of Kerry’s greatest servants.
His leadership on and off the field was extremely important over the last year in particular as a lot of younger players were integrated into the panel for the first time.
He acted as a mentor and confidant to many of these new players and has successfully helped them understand what it really means to be a Kerry footballer.
Kieran was an inspirational player for his fellow team mates and supporters alike. His capacity to get our supporters behind the team on match day was unparalleled as was evidenced in many a crucial match for the County.
His performances during 2014 were heroic and memorable culminating in an exceptional individual performance in the final against Donegal.
Kieran was always happy to advise and encourage everyone and undoubtedly has left the team, the County and the famed Kerry jersey in a better place.
On behalf of all Kerry folk at home and abroad I wish Kieran, his wife Hillary and their children all the very best in the future.
His final Kerry manager, Eamon Fitzmaurice, also paid tribute to Donaghy and tipped him to go into management.
I would like to congratulate Kieran Donaghy on his retirement from the Kerry senior football team. He has been a totemic figure for Kerry since he broke into the team in 2006 and has lead from the front since. He book ended his career by re-energising an ailing group in 2006 and inspiring a new group in 2018.
Kieran came on the scene as a rangy midfielder, was converted with huge success into a target man full forward and has embraced a variety of roles on the team since. 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. 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.
Duine, peileadóir agus ceannaire ionspioráideach lán do pearsantacht ab ea Kieran. Fear is ea é a thug gach a bhí aige i gcónaí agus geansaí Chiarraí á chaitheamh aige. Guím gach rath air agus ar Hilary, Lola Rose agus Indie.