THE planning and preparation required to end a 24-year Donegal senior title wait for Kilcar starts this week.
That was the bold message delivered by the club’s 2012 All-Ireland winning defender Mark McHugh following their league success in Glenties on Sunday afternoon.
Kilcar had just defeated Naomh Conaill 2-16 to 3-08 to secure the Division One League title but McHugh’s focus had already switched to next summer and avenging this year’s Championship final heartache at the hands of Glenswlly.
“That’s what the league is about – building and building towards a Championship. As a club we’re taking steps in the right direction but we need to build on that again next year,” he said.
While both Michael Hegarty and Conor McShane are in the twilight stages of their careers, McHugh believes that the club has to concentrate its focus on events away from the field of play.
“I’ll be having a good chat with dad (Martin) over the next week or two because we need him to stay on as manager. We also need James, Paddy and Ian there too and, especially, Aaron Kyles. The effort each of them have given the players and, in turn, the players have given back has been unbelievable. There’s great respect from both sides.
“Kilcar need to be taking forward steps every year – not any backward steps – and we need to keep everyone on board.
“People say that Michael Hegarty and Conor McShane are old but you should see them at training. They’re both flying and there’s another two or three years left in them – at least.
“If we can take one more step next year we won’t be a million miles away from winning a Championship. Maybe it won’t happen then but it we keep taking those steps forward I’ve no doubt that in the not too distant future we’ll win the County Championship,” he said.
Yesterday’s win brought only a second league title to the club since 1987 yet the 2012 All-Star admitted that the pain of losing out to Glenswilly on County final still hurts.
“It’s nice to win a wee bit of silverware all but it doesn’t beat that final hurt – nothing will unless we win it next year – but it eases the pain a wee bit,” he said.
“We only lost one game all year when we had a full panel available to us. Unfortunately for us that was the county final but we’re getting there. I don’t think any team in the county could have lived with us during the first half today,” he said.
It’s been a good few days in the McHugh household as Ryan collected an All-Star on Friday night. He follows in the footsteps of his older brother Mark (2012), father Martin (1983 and 1992) and uncle James (1992) in bringing an All-Star to Kilcar.
“It was a proud day for the family. We all went to Dublin on the Friday night and while me and dad were both very proud I think the proudest woman there was mum who has now seen her husband and two sons win All-Stars,” he said.
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