Paddy McGrath calls time on Donegal career after 12 years

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Donegal star Paddy McGrath has called time on his inter-county career after 12 years, winning five Ulster titles and one Sam Maguire Cup.

McGrath has struggled with injury in recent years but will be remembered for playing his part in Donegal’s second All-Ireland triumph in 2012.

The corner-back was an All-Star nominee in Donegal’s All-Ireland winning year after several top performances helped play a part in his side’s journey to the summit of Gaelic football.

The Ardara man was in Croke Park in September once again in 2014 as Jim McGuinness brought the county to their second All-Ireland final in three years.

However, that day was not to be as Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s Kerry bridged a five-year gap to earn their 37th Sam Maguire.

“To have played for Donegal just once, I never would have imagined that as a wee fella growing up,” McGrath told the Donegal News.

“But to have had 12 years and some medals to go along with it, it’s been amazing.

“The friends made and just the honour of wearing my county’s colours, it’s the stuff of dreams.”

McGrath was among the many players that made the leap from under-21 to senior football with ease for Donegal after finishing second in the U21 All-Ireland Championship.

John Joe Doherty gave the defender his senior debut for the county in an Ulster Senior Football Championship loss to Down in 2010 but McGuinness, who managed the U21s at that time, came in for 2011 and took the team to new heights.

Three Ulster titles followed under McGuinness, on top of the All-Ireland triumph but Donegal regressed under Rory Gallagher, who succeeded the All-Ireland winning coach and former All-Irelan winning player.

McGrath remained a mainstay in the side throughout Gallagher’s reign and in the early period of current boss Declan Bonner’s second term with the county.

He picked up his fourth and fifth Ulster titles under Bonner in 2018 and 2019, becoming a centurion for the county in the latter season, before an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Mayo in the All-Ireland Super 8s began the end of his career.

His club Ardara praised him on social media after announcing his retirement from the inter-county scene on Monday morning: “Paddy finally bows out from County football after a fantastic career. Donegal’s loss is Ardara’s gain and we look forward to seeing him for many more years in our own green and gold jersey inspiring the next generation of Ardara footballers.

“What a career @mcgrath_2..!”

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