Kerry's Star man retires from inter-county football
Kerry star Kieran Donaghy has retired from inter-county football.
The former Footballer of the Year won four All-Ireland medals with the Kingdom and picked up four All Star awards.
The 35-year-old, known by fans simply as 'Star', played a key role in manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s side this season, but he has decided to call it a day after 14 seasons at the top level.
Donaghy first came to national prominence in 2004 when he was part of the Underdogs team from TG4’s reality television show which was aimed at unearthing inter-county talent.
He made his Kerry debut the following season, but it was in 2006 under Jack O’Connor that he really made his name.
Having originally been seen as a midfielder, O’Connor converted him into a targetman full-forward and by the end of the 2006 season a Kerry team that had been in crisis were All-Ireland champions and Donaghy was named Footballer of the Year.
He went on to win Celtic Crosses in 2007, 2009 and 2014, when he his goal opportunist against Donegal helped to seal an unexpected victory on the big day at Croke Park.
In a statement, Donaghy expressed his disbelief and gratitude with the career he enjoyed with Kerry.
"The journey has been full of ups and downs but I never wanted it to end. 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," he said.
"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."
Many people thought that 2016 would be his last season in the green and gold jersey, but when he got sent off late in the All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Mayo it looked like a sad end to a great career.
But he came back and committed to one more year and his intervention in the dying minutes of Kerry’s Super 8s game with Monaghan, when he brilliantly tapped down a high ball to David Clifford to set up the levelling goal, showed his worth.
It wasn’t enough however, and his last game for the Kingdom was their last quarter-final round game win over Kildare, which wasn’t enough to see them into the semi-finals.
A little poem for ye. Thanks for everything @Kerry_Official pic.twitter.com/WIxl985gkL— Kieran Donaghy (@starryboy14) September 11, 2018
Fitzmaurice stepped down as manager after that result so the new manager in will have to do without one of the county’s most experienced players.
Donaghy was also a prominent basketball player with local sides in Tralee and he is a former Ireland international.
It is expected that he will continue to play for Austin Stacks, who he helped to the 2014 Kerry and Munster senior titles.
Well done @starryboy14 . Easy to enjoy the afterlife after everything you have given. Legend . Fair play.— Ronan O Gara (@RonanOGara10) September 11, 2018
While Donaghy was primarily used as a full-forward, he had regular spells in midfield where he was able to contest and win ball in the air.
His footballing abilities were sometimes underestimated, but he had a light touch and was able to kick points from distance as well as poach goals from closer to the target.
He struck up a productive on-field relationship with Colm Cooper and the pair terrorised defences with their little and large combination.