"I was kind of going 'I'm not a Kerry player" - Donaghy's story a brilliant watch
"I'm one of those guys that's very easy to like when he's on your side, but very easy to hate when he's on the other..."
Hatred in sport, is often one of the best compliments you could pay. A bad player will never be hated.
Amongst the opposition, Kieran Donaghy wouldn't have been one of the most liked. A ferocious competitor, Donaghy was one of those players everyone in Kerry could bank on, to step up and do something important in the white heat of battle. Over the course of a stellar fifteen year career, Tyrone, Armagh, Mayo, Dublin - you name them - grew to hate him as Donaghy proved to be the trump card that always delivered for Kerry.
As it turns out, it was nearly the trump card that got away.
From a young age, basketball was the Kerryman's one true refuge. As his father battled alcohol and gambling problems, long, therapeutic shooting sessions acted as a release, and Donaghy refined the accuracy and the skills that marked him out as one of the brightest young talents on the Kerry scene.
But in Kerry, Gaelic football is the religion and Donaghy was soon coaxed back to the game he was beginning to drift away from.
"I had stopped playing," he says, in yet another brilliant Laochra Gael episode, that will air on TG4 this Thursday night at 9.30.
"My effort and my practice levels had gone down, so I had gone down the pecking order..."
Starting work in Aidan O'Connor's GAA stronghold 'The Greyhound Bar' was a turning point, his cousin convincing him to give the football another lash.
"You had more belief in me than I had," remarked Donaghy as the pair cast their minds back.
"I was kind of going 'I'm not a Kerry player'"
Donaghy went onto make the Kerry minor team soon after, and O'Connor, watching on proudly, coined the nickname 'Star' that still sticks with Donaghy today.
"I was just so glad that you had made your mind up you were going to play," says O'Connor.
"And I just said lads, 'we have a new star born!'
Starting out as a midfielder, it initially took Donaghy a while to make his mark but after Jack O'Connor's brainwave to move the big man into full forward for a qualifier game against Longford, his career took off.
"Marc Ó Sé turned to me and he said, 'Jesus, how do you mark that?" - said former Kerry player Micheál Quirke, as the player watched Donaghy's fetching and power on the edge of the square in training.
He went onto win Footballer of the Year that year, and followed it up with three more All-Irelands. For his distinctive style, Donaghy will always stick out like a beacon for Gaelic football followers.
"He absolutely changed the game," said Joe McMahon.
The programme airs tonight on TG4. It's definitely one not to be missed.
Kieran Donaghy's Laochra Gael 🌟
This Thursday, 9.30 🕖
Seems like a cracker 👌pic.twitter.com/1NMW8nfsu6
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) March 3, 2020