Martin McHugh

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Martin McHugh
Personal information
Irish name Máirtín Mac Aodh
Sport Gaelic Football
Position Centre Forward
Born 1961
Letterkenny, Ireland
Height 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
Years Club
Chíll Chartha
Club titles
Donegal titles 4
Years County
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 3
All-Irelands 1
All Stars 2

Martin McHugh (born 1961) is a former Gaelic footballer, manager and media personality. A two-time All Star winner, Texaco Footballer of the Year in 1992 and a member of Donegal's 1992 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winning side, he can now be seen on the BBC expressing his views on the game. He is current manager of northwestern outfit IT Sligo.[1][2]

Voted Donegal's best ever footballer in the 125-year history of the Gaelic Athletic Association in a poll carried out by the Donegal Democrat in 2009,[3][4] his son Mark is also an All-Ireland winner with Donegal. He owns Spirits and Liquor Limited.[5]

Playing career[edit]

Born in Kilcar, County Donegal, McHugh played Gaelic football with his local club Chíll Chartha and was a member of the Donegal senior inter-county team from the 1980s until the 1990s. He won his first All Star Award in 1983.

In 1990, he played in Donegal's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Meath. He was so poor he was substituted. He later said himself: "That was a bad day. [...] It was one of them games. [...] It was one of them games where the game just bypassed me. I never got into the game, I don't exactly know what happened."[6] In a wee restaurant in Cavan on the way back some fella came over and rubbed salt into his wounds by saying: "Where was your famous Martin McHugh today?", seemingly oblivious to McHugh's presence.[6]

McHugh returned the stronger and became an All-Ireland winner with Donegal in 1992. He also won his second All Star Award that year and was voted 1992 Player of the Year.[7]

In total he won three Ulster senior titles with Donegal: 1983, 1990 and 1992.[6]

His brother, James, also played in the 1992 All-Ireland Final and received an All Star in 1992, while his son Mark has won two Ulster Senior Football Championships (2011, 2012) and one All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (2012) with Donegal. Mark was born the Wednesday after Martin McHugh's Donegal side were defeated by Meath in the semi-final of the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.[6] His son Ryan has also played for the Donegal in the minor team.[3]

Management career[edit]

McHugh wanted to take charge of Donegal after 1992 All-Ireland manager Brian McEniff left the job. However, he was prevented from doing so by the Donegal County Board in a snub that would later be echoed in Jim McGuinness's numerous later attempts to get the same job—McGuinness was, however, ultimately successful; after being rejected by the Donegal County Board on several occasions he would go on to be Donegal's most successful manager ever. McHugh was hurt by his rejection, saying: "I thought there was another All-Ireland in Donegal and that's why I went for that job. I thought there was another All-Ireland there, and there was a lot of good players coming too. But anyway, that's the way it worked out".[8]

McHugh later took over as manager of Cavan in 1996. In 1997, he helped Cavan reclaim the Ulster Senior Football Championship after 28 years. He also managed Sligo IT to the Sigerson Cup success.

He declined the Donegal job in 2008, telling BBC Sport "I don't have the time".[9]

Media career[edit]

McHugh currently works as a GAA pundit for BBC Television and Radio[10] and he writes for the Irish Daily Star newspaper.[11] In 2012, as Donegal surged towards their second All-Ireland success, McHugh started appearing on The Sunday Game on RTÉ. He was on the programme the night Donegal won the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.

At the end of the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, with McHugh on the sideline working for BBC television coverage of the game, his son Mark, part of the victorious Donegal team, ran to embrace him. Martin McHugh burst into tears as the full extent of what had happened hit him.[12][13] The emotional moment, as Martin recalled the death of his father Jim the previous October and his mother Kathleen's Alzheimer's, was beamed around the globe and became one of the iconic images of the victory.[14]

In 2013, he called for change to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and claimed that the back door only helped stronger counties such as his own.[15][16]

In 2014, McHugh labelled legendary Kerry forward, Colm Cooper a "two-trick pony." McHugh's comments were badly received by many in The Kingdom, highlighting, in many people's eyes, McHugh's lack ability as a pundit, rather than Cooper's lack of footballing ability.[17]

Political career[edit]

McHugh has been involved in the politics of the game.[18]

Career statistics[edit]

Team Season Ulster All-Ireland Total
Apps Score Apps Score Apps Score
Donegal 1981 1 0-04 0 0-00 1 0-04
1982 1 0-08 0 0-00 1 0-08
1983 2 0-12 1 0-05 3 0-17
1984 0 0-00 0 0-00 0 0-00
1985 2 1-13 0 0-00 2 1-13
1986 1 0-03 0 0-00 1 0-03
1987 1 0-00 0 0-00 1 0-00
1988 1 0-04 0 0-00 1 0-04
1989 4 2-16 0 0-00 4 2-16
1990 3 0-08 1 0-01 4 0-09
1991 3 0-02 0 0-00 3 0-02
1992 4 0-12 2 0-04 6 0-16
1993 3 0-07 0 0-00 3 0-07
1994 2 0-02 0 0-00 2 0-02
Total 28 3-91 4 0-10 32 3-101



-Being Rachel Mchughs father who is Niamh Hartnett's best friend not ciara wylie


  1. ^ Martin McHugh's got a new football management job
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "The 'Wee Man' was big". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "McHugh tops in Donegal '125'". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 30 December 2009. Archived from the original on 27 August 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "McHugh thinks that Kerry still set the bar in football". The Kerryman. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2009.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ a b c d "Legends: Martin McHugh, Part 2". 23 August 2012. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Profile of Martin McHugh". 14 August 1992. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  8. ^ Craig, Frank. "Jim could have walked away – McGuinness: 'I had offers'". Letterkenny Post, 20 September 2012, pp. 44–45.
  9. ^ "McHugh rules out Donegal position". BBC Sport. BBC. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "Martin McHugh". BBC. 
  11. ^ "The heroes of '92 – Where are they now?". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 8 January 2009. Archived from the original on 18 December 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  12. ^ 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. BBC Television. 23 September 2012.
  13. ^ "I hope I'm now known as Mark McHugh's father – Martin McHugh". Donegal Daily. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Donegal legend reveals heartache behind emotional scenes with son Mark". Donegal Daily. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012. Pictures of the Kilcar father and son hugging and crying with each other have gone around the globe. 
  15. ^ "Martin McHugh: Championship back door 'has only helped stronger counties'". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "McHugh slams championship format". Hogan Stand. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Kerry star James O'Donoghue: Martin McHugh did me no favours with Gooch comparison". The Irish Daily Mirror. MGN Limited. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Martin McHugh will try for a Central Council role again". BBC Sport. BBC. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009. 

External links[edit]