Donaghy, who turns 35 next March, entered the past three seasons expecting each one to be his last, but he was one of Kerry’s best performers again in 2017 and, after recent discussions with his family and Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice, the Austin Stacks man has decided to sign up for what will be his 14th consecutive season playing with the county senior team.
“I’ve always said it, I’ll retire when I can’t help Kerry anymore,” said Donaghy in tomorrow’s Weekend Sport big interview.
“Would it be easy for me to go out now? It would be easy. After a very good year at 34, nominated for an All Star, and have people saying: ‘Jesus, he was a great bit of stuff. Wow, you should never have retired, man, you were flying.’
“Rather than what I’m risking now and the ball doesn’t hop my way and things work against me and people going: ‘Ah, man, you should have gone last year.’
“But that’s fine and, if I don’t help Kerry on the pitch or I feel I can’t help Kerry on the pitch, I’ll be retired quicker than you can sit down, I’ll be gone, but I still feel I can do a job for Kerry and I still enjoy it, so why would I retire? Because society thinks I should retire? Because when you get over 30 in the GAA they all think you should retire?”
Donaghy will see out the basketball season with Garvey’s Tralee Warriors, but has started gym sessions under the supervision of the Kerry backroom staff and will keep his football skills ticking over in the coming months by attending the odd collective field session with the county setup.
“The arrangement is very similar to last year. Éamonn knows when I’m committed to something, I’m committed, that I’m not chancing my arm here. There are three months to go in the basketball season, and, if I was to get a bad injury or if my back doesn’t clear up and the strength work I’m putting into it doesn’t help it, it could well be the case that come March I’m saying: ‘Éamonn, I’m actually not in a position to help you.’
“But I wouldn’t say the basketball is compromising me in any way, no. It’s keeping me fresh upstairs in the mind and, as Éamonn and [new team S&C consultant] Joe [O’Connor] have said to me, with my body and my age, slogging me around a wet football pitch is going to do nothing for me. Whereas now, I’m staying fit, agile, and the hand-eye co-ordination and decision-making is going through the roof with the basketball.”