GAA Football

Ryan McHugh sets sight on Sigerson and tussle with Tipperary

Donegal Ryan McHugh with Stephen Sheridan and James Morgan (4) of Armagh during the McKenna Cup semi final match at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday January 13 2019. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin.
Gerry McLaughlin

Some managers see Sigerson football as an unnecessary hindrance in a busy NFL season.

But Donegal's busy star Ryan McHugh does not share such pessimism as he prepares for a crunch Sigerson match with NUIG in Abbotstown Dublin tonight.

And he has an even more pressing encounter with Tipperary on Sunday as Donegal seek to go into the break with full points.

The International Business Studies student started Donegal's first two League matches after being out for almost five months with concussion.

It was a deeply frustrating time for the Kilcar and Donegal star standing helplessly on the line.

“It came at a very bad time, especially for my club Kilcar, who were the reigning Donegal county champions and Paddy McBrearty was missing also,'' he said.

“It was very frustrating as my dad is always saying that you have a short career and you just have to make the best

“But I just had to go with the medical advice from Dr Kevin Moran and thank God I am better again.

“But the hardest thing you can do is to be standing watching and not being able to do anything.”

And he admitted that the concussion might get him to reconsider the way he plays his game.

McHugh has a distinctive style of dipping his shoulders and head as he takes on a defence and has been possibly too brave, according to some observers.

And he has shipped some fairly heavy knocks for that bravery which resulted in a serious setback over the past five months.

“Yes it is something I will have to think about,'' he conceded.

“The illness was very strange as it does not hit you right away. I first noticed it a week after the Kildare game in Ballyshannon.

“You get dizziness and you have to stay away from mobile phones and computers which is pretty difficult in my life as a student.

“It was a very worrying time for my family. And then it was a case of listening to Dr Kevin Moran in whom I have complete trust.

“And of course it is easy saying you will change when you are sitting around a table. But it is very different when you are in the heat of a championship battle.

“I really don't know the answer to it as you could spend the whole game standing back and make one run and then you get a bang on the head, so you never really know.”

“But if I had gone back to play too early I might not be sitting here today.”

Meanwhile McHugh feels Donegal is in a good place as they head to Thurles at the weekend.

"There are a lot of good young players coming through and it was strange to think that I was the oldest forward in the match against Clare.

"Age is just a number and if you are good enough you are old enough."

McHugh added that Sigerson football has developed and improved him as a player.

“It is very busy these days balancing college and county but Declan Bonner and the Donegal management are very understanding,'' he said.

“So while I might not make all the training sessions I am there for meetings with the college in Jordanstown.

“Donegal is still the priority but you have to be fair to the college as that is where you get your education and you have to give them the respect they deserve.

“And it is important that you show the college the respect they deserve.

“Playing with UUJ has progressed me as a footballer and I suppose I am lucky to be playing with top players from different counties.

“You can see what they do differently and better and you can bring that back to your own county.

“It is very good for your development.”

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