Ryan McHugh insists his big brother Mark has "no regrets" over missing out on Donegal’s latest Ulster title triumph.
Ryan, 21, produced a man-of-the-match performance in Clones on Sunday to win his first Ulster title, something he described as “my best moment in football”.
His older brother Mark was a key part of Donegal’s success at provincial and national level, before surprisingly quitting the squad prior to this year’s championship.
“Mark made his decision and he’ll be happy for the lads,” he said.
“He rang me Saturday night to wish me and all the lads the best.
“He was part of the squad and is best friends with all the lads. He’ll be happy for everyone. He’s out in America and he’s enjoying himself. He is happy with the decision he made, and has no regrets so it’s all good.”
Having narrowly missed out an Ulster U21 medal a few months ago, McHugh is delighted to have joined his brother and father Martin as a provincial champion — but he doesn’t want to stop there.
“Mark and dad have been there and done that. Thankfully I have one (medal) now, but hopefully I can go on and get more. It feels great, this is my best moment in county football, or in football in general, in my career.
“Hopefully I can go on to do better things but for now it’s just great. There’s a few of us winning our first (Ulster) and hopefully we can go on and win a few more.”
McHugh came into the squad after the 2012 All-Ireland success and was thrown into a difficult 2013 season.
This year he and Odhran MacNiallais have added so much freshness to a seasoned squad and made themselves virtually undroppable after a string of impressive displays.
The Kilcar man sensed the hurt amongst his older team-mates after the defeats to Monaghan and then Mayo last year and says manager Jim McGuinness made them believe they would win Sunday’s final.
“This was a big one for us coming in to the game,” he admitted. There was a lot of hurt after last year. The Mayo victory was a dull day for Donegal. Monaghan have been great Ulster champions and we were going in on Sunday as underdogs but Jim and the lads put great belief into us.
“They put great store in us coming back to win Ulster this year and told us beforehand, it doesn’t matter if we go two, three, four points behind, we have the team here to win the game. We knew Monaghan would be hard to break down but we’re just delighted to come out of it. We had done the training and showed we’re in good shape and we were fit to go to the end.”
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