Interview: Kieran Donaghy, Kerry GAA Legend on His Past, Present & Future

kieran donaghy - kerry football

In the words of Kieran Donaghy “It’s been one heck of a ride”. Following his announcement to retire from inter-county football just last week, we sat down with our Business Development Manager as he looks back on his career, discusses the future of GAA development and if he’s ready to do battle with Joe Brolly in a studio. He even lets us in on who his favourite O’Sé brother is!

There’s also a touching recital by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh of Star’s now famous retirement poem. Watch video below:

How has it been since the announcement ?

Unreal to be honest, blown away by the kind words that people have said and written over the last 6 days. All the messages I’ve received from all over the world have filled my heart with pride. The stuff Kerry people have said to me from New York Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Australia, Dubai and beyond has been amazing. They are the Irish away from home and we keep them in touch with home.

Toughest opponent you’ve faced at inter-county level?

There have been many tough opponents but to single someone out is hard. I’m a big believer in team defence and help defence, and for that reason the Tyrone team 2003/2008 and the current Dublin team are the best I’ve come across. They both had personal togetherness and a will to do anything to win. That’s what you need to have to win the ultimate prize.

Most memorable game you’ve played in?

The famous game in the Gaelic grounds in 2014 against a great Mayo team was the most memorable game I’ve ever been part of. There was massive pressure on me going into the game, so to win in such dramatic circumstances was something I’ll never forget. It had everything, Mayo storming into a 7 point lead early on, Kerry coming back, there were 6 goals, massive collisions, last minute draws, extra time, brawls at the end and fans invading the pitch. The buzz after that game was unreal, the pride in the dressing room and the sense that we could not be beaten in a final is a lovely way to go into it.

Apart from Croke Park – what’s the best surface you’ve played football on?

All of our PST Sport modified 3G pitches of course. I must say it would have to be Fitzgerald Stadium, it has been my home and I loved playing on that surface. It always held a special place in my heart as we had some battles in that colosseum.

Can the Dubs do five in a row?

Of course they can, and they probably should with the squad they have but the Bomber told me years ago that its extremely hard to make history and he should know!

Kerry will be hurting after not showing up for a semi-final this season so they will be coming hard. Tyrone will be trying to find a deadly forward or two to help their charge. Mayo, Galway, Donegal, Kildare and Monaghan are all strong and can test the Dubs. Yes we have all tested this Dublin side in the last 4 years but we haven’t beaten them, there is a reason for that, no one has brought the full package for 75 minutes and that’s what it will take. That with some bravery as if you’re not brave against them you don’t stand a chance.

kieran donaghy

Which of the O’Sé brothers is your favourite?

I love all my O’Sé boys including the legend of an uncle they had.

Out of the 4 of them.

Most talented footballer = Marc O’Sé
Best defender = Paidi O’Sé
Best Attacker = Tomas O’Sé
Best all-rounder = Darragh O’Sé

What one piece of advice would you give young inter county player starting out?

Enjoy it, and be a bit different, don’t worry too much about what others outside your camp think of you. Play with personality, let it show you really care, be a good teammate, look out for the guy struggling and give him a call, don’t just worry about yourself. It’s been one heck of a ride so enjoy all of it and treat winning and losing the same and strive to get better, that’s the only thing you have full control of.

How has GAA training evolved since you first joined the Kerry squad?

A lot, science has brought that and things will always evolve so you must embrace that. I must say I love the odd hard beach run or a session when you’re been flogged. You are getting more than fitness out of something like that and you will spot the fellas dodging and taking short cuts. There is no time for that if you’re in the business of winning All Irelands.

But it has gone to an unreal level now and that’s just where the game is at. It takes no talent to be the fittest so when you’re trying to catch a team it’s the first place to start.

Any approach from the Sunday Game where you could take on Joe Brolly in a punditry battle?

Not yet, and even though I destroyed Joe Brolly after the 2014 win with that one liner it would be a far different story going at him in a studio battle.