With a heavy heart, Mayo's Donie Vaughan confirms inter-county retirement

Vaughan tells now-former Mayo colleagues: "It has been an honour and a privilege to wear the green and red alongside you with pride. You are men of outstanding character and relentless drive"
With a heavy heart, Mayo's Donie Vaughan confirms inter-county retirement

FAREWELL: Mayo's Donie Vaughan celebrates scoring a late point against rivals Galway in a 2019 All-Ireland SFC qualifier in Limerick. The Castlebar man has confirmed his retirement from inter-county football. Picture: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile

MAYO'S Donie Vaughan has announced his retirement from inter-county football at 32.

Vaughan started in five All Ireland senior finals but after an injury-disrupted season caused him to miss out on a sixth decider last month against Dublin, he has decided after 12 years of county football to step away.

Vaughan, whose wife Máiread gave birth to their first child only six weeks ago, was central to Mayo establishing themselves as such a consistent championship force the past decade. He won an All-Star nomination in 2011 after kicking three points off Declan O’Sullivan from centre back in the All Ireland semi-final before he was joined the following year by Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle to form probably the finest half-back line in the game.

In 2013 he only narrowly missed out on an All-Star after an outstanding campaign in which he powered through for goals against Galway and against Donegal in a devastating All-Ireland quarter-final display. In 2014 it was Vaughan who fisted over the equalising point to bring the epic All Ireland semi-final replay against Kerry in Limerick to extra time.

In 2016 he was Mayo’s man of the match in the drawn All Ireland final, kicking an injury-time point before Cillian O’Connor’s equalising score, but a knock to the head forced him to come off at halftime in the replay, while he infamously also didn’t finish the 2017 final after he was shown a red card for raising his hand to John Small.

Vaughan, known by his teammates as ‘Shoes’ because of the successful in-store and online shoe retail business he runs, would bounce back to win a national league medal in 2019 to go along with the six Connacht championships he’d previously accumulated, but a recurring injury severely hampered him in 2020. 

After starting in every game Mayo had played in Croke Park since 2009, bar the drawn 2017 All Ireland quarter-final replay against Roscommon in which he came on at halftime, he didn’t make the matchday 26 for either of Mayo’s two games in headquarters this past December.

In his retirement statement issued to  Examiner Sport, he writes: “It is with a heavy heart that I have come to the decision that the time is now right to hang up my boots. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the army of Mayo fans for all of their support over the years, especially to those who took the time to send me cards, letters and messages.

“I would like to thank all of my current and previous management teams, medical, county board officers and support teams who have helped me over the years. I would also like to thank all of the people who helped to develop me as a footballer from an early age.

“To my parents John and Tricia, my sisters Ailish, Laura and Mary, all close and extended family and friends who have followed me to every corner of the country, I will never forget your love and support.

“My wife Mairéad has been a pillar of support to me and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her. I'm looking forward to going to games in the future with her and our new-born son Eddie and cheering Mayo on.

“To my fellow teammates who I have soldiered with over the last twelve years: it has been an honour and a privilege to wear the green and red alongside you with pride. You are men of outstanding character and relentless drive.

“Finally, I would like to acknowledge how tough a year this has been for everybody. Stay strong and stay safe.

“Maigh Eo Abú - Donie.”

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