Derry football dealt a blow as Fergal Doherty retires

Brian McIver: ‘He was one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game’

Derry stalwart Fergal Doherty has announced his retirement from inter-county football due to work commitments and recurring injuries.

‘The Doc’ as he’s affectionately known to Derry supporters made his senior debut in 2001, and has four All Star nominations to his name in the years since.

Two years ago he took a break from the Derry set-up although he did return during the 2013 league, helping his team to promotion from Division Two with his usual no-nonsense approach around the middle third.

This summer the 33-year-old started at midfield in all four of Derry’s games, playing in every minute of three of them as the Ulster side beat Down before Donegal ended their provincial dream and Galway knocked them out of the championship outright in the qualifiers (following a win over Wexford).

Derry have recently appointed Damian Barton as their new manager, and he admits Doherty's leadership qualities and physicality will be hard replaced.

“Fergal was a player with great presence and great temperament. He was a leader who commanded respect,” said Barton.

“Fergal was one of the few players who could catch the ball at a great height and then hit the ground running.

“His immense presence will be missed. However, it is now up to the new generation of Derry footballer to replicate the same qualities which Fergal Doherty demonstrated.”

While the outgoing Brian McIver was equally glowing in his appraisal, describing the former county captain as one of the best midfielder of his time.

“I want to wish Fergal well in his retirement from inter-county football. He was a pleasure to work with at all times and is, in my opinion, one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game.”

As for Doherty himself, he released a typically businesslike statement on Thursday morning; “Unfortunately due to ongoing work commitments and recurring injuries, I have had to call time on my inter-county career with Derry.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to wear the red and white jersey representing our county. I have enjoyed my time playing inter-county football and it’s something that I will miss. However, I feel the time is now right to make this call.

“I want to wish Damian Barton and all the lads the very best of luck for the season ahead.”

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