Kieran Donaghy says his 14 seasons in a Kerry jersey surpassed even the wildest dreams of ‘a basketball kid from Tralee’.

The 35-year-old announced his retirement from the Kingdom set-up, bringing to an end a career that started in 2004 and brought four All-Ireland medals.

In a statement released via the Kerry GAA website, he said: "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.

"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."

Under Kingdom bosses Jack O’Connor, Pat O’Shea and Eamonn Fitzmaurice Donaghy also won three All Star awards and was named Footballer of the Year in 2006.

Donaghy shares a joke with Mayo's Aidan O'Shea

He first rose to prominence to 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 and in 2006, when he was converted from a midfielder to a target-man full forward he won his first All-Ireland and was named Footballer of the Year.

In his statement, he thanked his club Austin Stacks for naming him as Kingdom captain for the 2015 season after their 2014 county and provincial championship wins.

Concluding, he thanked his family, including his mother Deirdre, wife Hilary and daughters Lola-Rose and Indie.

Donaghy in club colours

He said: "Mom, I am forever grateful to you for believing in me and showing me how to be a good person first and foremost.

"To my wife Hilary, you’re all that I could ask for, thank you so much for always putting me first during my career, we have had so many wonderful experiences together throughout this journey and made life-long friends along the way I can’t wait to start the next exciting chapter together with Lola-Rose & Indie.

"To the rest of my family, thank you for your support and always having my back.

"I’m a proud Kerry man and to have represented this county meant absolutely everything to me. As the great John B Keane once said, ‘I’m one lucky hoor!’"

Kieran Donaghy's statement in full:
Today I wish to announce my retirement from the Kerry Senior Football team. 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.

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 .

I would like to thank the Kerry County Board along with our sponsors Kerry Group, backroom staff and medical teams for their constant help and guidance throughout my career. Your unbelievable work is not seen by many but it’s massively appreciated by the team and by me.

A huge thank you to the loyal Kerry fans who traveled 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.

I would also like to thank all the supporters who live abroad but continue their love and support of Kerry.

I would like to thank my club Austin Stacks, everything I achieved is a direct result of the help and guidance ye gave me from an early age. To represent this great club is always a massive privilege and our county championship win in 2014 gave me the ultimate honour the following season. To be captain of a county like Kerry is something I’m extremely proud to have accomplished.To my family, without you none of this would have been possible. Mom, I am forever grateful to you for believing in me and showing me how to be a good person first and foremost.

To my wife Hilary, you’re all that I could ask for, thank you so much for always putting me first during my career , we have had so many wonderful experiences together throughout this journey and made life long friends along the way I can’t wait to start the next exciting chapter together with Lola-Rose & Indie.

To the rest of my family, thank you for your support and always having my back.

I’m a proud Kerry man and to have represented this county meant absolutely everything to me. As the great John B Keane once said, ‘I’m one lucky hoor!’

Statement from Tim Murphy Chairman of Kerry County Committee:
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.