St Eunan’s hopes for the upcoming season have been dealt a blow with the news that Mark McGowan has been forced to retire.
The versatile wing-back took the decision on medical advice from Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Jonathan Bunn, who specialises in hip arthroscopy at Santry Sports Clinic.
“I’d an operation on my left hip in Santry in February 2012 but the injury has been at me since and I was advised it was best not to continue playing,” 25-year-old McGowan said.
“It’s very disappointing as I really enjoy playing with St Eunan’s but couldn’t get back to full fitness.”
McGowan is one of the most decorated footballers in the county having won the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC on four occasions.
McGowan played in the 2006 showpiece as St Eunan’s lost out in a drab final against Gaoth Dobhair but was a winner when Brendan Kilcoyne’s side overcame Glenswilly 0-12 to 1-3 in 2007.
Twelve months later, Eamon O’Boyle’s St Eunan’s defeated Termon 2-13 to 1-8 and then completed a famous three-in-a-row thanks to a 0-13 to 0-6 win over Naomh Conaill in 2009.
McGowan, in the 2012 final, kicked the winning score from a ‘45’ as St Eunan’s beat Naomh Conaill to reclaim the Dr Maguire in a 1-7 to 0-9 victory. He also won the All-County League Division One four times.
McGowan was also a three-time All-Ireland soccer winner with St Eunan’s College, winning the 2001 U-13s, scoring the only goal in extra-time in the 2004 U-16 final against Summerhill College from Sligo and featured in the 2005 U-18 senior title win.
A member of Sean Clerkin’s county minor team in 2006, McGowan won the Ulster Minor League and the Ulster Championship alongside the likes of Michael Murphy, Leo McLoone, Martin McElhinney and Declan Walsh.
In 2008, McGowan first represented Donegal as Brian McIver’s experimental team lost 5-14 to 0-13 in the Dr McKenna Cup against eventual winners Down.
That July, McGowan made his only championship appearance for the county when he came on as a substitute for Frank McGlynn in the 3-11 to 0-9 All-Ireland qualifier win over Roscommon.
McGowan was also part of John Joe Doherty’s panel that won the 2010 Dr McKenna Cup, appearing in the final against Tyrone, which Donegal won 1-11 to 0-13.
Jim McGuinness named McGowan in his 2012 panel, which eventually won the All-Ireland, but the player was forced to withdraw because of hip surgery.
“I would love to play as long as I could and even try and get back into contention for the Donegal panel,” said McGowan, who is a UCD engineering graduate and is currently employed as an energy trader with ElectroRoute. “But it’s not to be and I’d like to wish everyone at St Eunan’s all the best and I’ll certainly be cheering them on in the future.”