Michael Hegarty retires from county football

Michael Hegarty, the longest serving forward in the current Donegal football squad, has called time on his county career.

Michael Hegarty, the longest serving forward in the current Donegal football squad, has called time on his county career.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness confirmed that the Kilcar man, whose senior career in the green and gold spanned three decades, will not be available to him this summer and was calling it a day.

The manager and the player have spoken in recent weeks with Hegarty informing the manager that he was retiring from county football and was going to concentrate on club football and playing with Kilcar.

“Myself and Michael spoke and he told me that he was no longer able to give the commitment due to work and family commitments and he was retiring,” said McGuinness, who admitted this was not the news that he was hoping to hear.

“Michael was a stylish and talented player and has been a good servant to Donegal football. I still felt he had something to offer and could have done a job and played a role, but regretfully he feels he was no longer able to give the commitment,” added McGuinness, who wished his former team mate well on his retirement.

“It was not an easy decision. We had a great year last year and we all really enjoyed it and to finally win an Ulster medal was brilliant. But I suppose there comes a time in a player’s career when you have to make the decision to retire and I feel that time has come for me.

“I will miss it and I made great friends and played with great players down the years and it was a great privilage to play for Donegal. It is something I will always look back on with great pride and satisfaction,” said Michael.

Hegarty, who is 32, played over 100 times for Donegal and made his championship debut against Armagh in 1999. He was introduced by then manager Declan Bonner as a second half substitute in the first round draw and he held his place for the replay, won by Armagh.

He played his last game coming off the bench, replacing Christy Toye, in the second half of last August’s All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Dublin in Croke Park.

He played under five Donegal managers - Declan Bonner, Mickey Moran, Brian McEniff, Brian McIvor, John Joe Doherty and Jim McGuinness - and he retires with a National League winners. medal from 2007 and an Ulster Championship winners. Celtic Cross from last season. He won an Ulster Minor Championship medal in 1996.

Hegarty also retires holding the record for championship appearances for Donegal, amassing a total of 50 championship appearances and overall he has played 127 times for the county.