It was a good night for Donegal at the annual GAA/GPA All-Star awards night on Friday night as Ryan McHugh picked up the Young Player of the Year award to go with the four All-Star awards picked up.
Apart from the All-Ireland winning years of 1992 (seven) and 2012 (eight), this was the best ever year for Donegal on All-Star night.
The other four players honoured were there before with Paul Durcan, Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy picking up their second award, while Neil McGee was being honoured for hte third time.
Ryan McHugh was following in the footsteps of Michael Murphy, who was crowned Young Player of the Year in 2009.
The awards reflect the great year Donegal have had, winning the Ulster title for the third time in four years and going within a whisker of winning the All-Ireland final.
The closeness of the final defeat left it bittersweet for the players picking up their awards but ‘keeper Paul Durcan was magnanimous in his reaction.
“It’s been a tough few weeks, but in fairness, all credit to Kerry. They deserved it on the day and you know, we have to move on from it,” said Paul.
“Unfortunately Jim (McGuinness) has moved on and hopefully now the right decision is made with the guy they get in and we’re looking forward to the new challenge.”
For Young Footballer of the Year, Ryan McHugh, it is just a matter of getting back on the field for next year.
“I’m delighted to get it. It’s a great honour but it was a disappointing end to the year for Donegal. But looking back on it, we won Ulster, which is a great achievement as well. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. It’s a great privilege for me and my family, so thank you very, very much.
“Jim has left a legacy in Donegal. It’s all about winning now. Back a couple of years ago, the team, they weren’t going to good. Jim took on the team and thankfully now they are back to winning ways and that’s what we in Donegal think we should be aiming for, success.
“I can’t wait to get back to training for next year. The County Board have a big task in trying to get a man to fill in Jim’s shoes, which is not going to be easy, but somebody has to do it.
“So listen, I can’t wait to get back to training and get back at it next year,” said Ryan.