'The best teammate I ever had bar none': GAA world reacts to Kieran Donaghy's retirement

Tributes are being paid to Kerry legend Kieran Donaghy upon his retirement from Kerry football.

Former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice, who also played with Donaghy for three years, called Donaghy a "totemic figure".

"He has been a totemic figure for Kerry since he broke into the team in 2006 and has led from the front since. He bookended 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 also tipped Donaghy as a potential Kerry manager.

"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."

Their teammate Marc Ó Sé called Donaghy "the best teammate I ever had bar none".

He added: "The ultimate team player. Never gave up. Was never beaten. And he was some craic in the dressing room as well. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís!"

Aidan O'Mahony wrote: "He wasn’t called the 'Star' for no reason, epitomised everything about being a kerry legend on & off the field, safe to say we got to know each other very well inside the white lines in training for years. All for the kerry cause, only one [star]. Friend for life."

Current player Killian Young called Donaghy a "Kerry icon".

He added: "Congratulations on a fantastic career and It was an absolute honor to share the Kerry Jersey with you. The very best of luck in your next chapter. #TheStar

"Ps. I won’t miss him pulling my jersey though!"

Darran O'Sullivan wrote: "What a journey it’s been with this guy! The big man with the most infectious personality. Lucky enough to play with some legends & he is one of them but he’s out on his own as the best teammate you could ever have. Thanks @starryboy14."

RTÉ pundit Joe Brolly, who Donaghy called out after winning the 2014 All-Ireland, also paid tribute on Twitter.

Tim Murphy, chairman of the Kerry County Committee, said Donaghy was "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 said.

"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 teammates 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."

This story was updated at 1.24pm.

By Stephen Barry

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