Mark McHugh says the Donegal players are ‘excited’ at the Declan Bonner’s recruitment of former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford.
Last month, it was confirmed that Rochford – who led Mayo to two All-Ireland finals in recent years – had joined Bonner’s backroom team as a coach.
It was an appointment that drew plenty of comment at the time. It had initially been expected that Rochford had been brought in to replace Karl Lacey, but the 2012 All-Ireland winner is remaining a part of the Donegal set-up.
“It was a surprise move, but it’s exciting enough for the Donegal players to get somebody new and somebody who’s respected that much within the Gaelic community,” McHugh said.
“I was chatting to Ian Burke, who won an All-Star – he’d be Corofin and he [Rochford] led Corofin to an All-Ireland, so they have a lot of time for him.
That’s exciting when you see people like that speaking so highly of him, so it can only be a good thing for us and you look forward to working with him and seeing what different mentality or different things he brings to the football field.
“I’m not saying it’s a great thing all the time, but when you get that different voice in the changing room – no matter whether it’s club or county – it’s good and it refreshes things and it gives people another wee bit of lease of life.
“It’s only good for Donegal and hopefully he can bring something different and take us to an extra level.”
McHugh injured his shoulder in Kilcar’s Donegal SFC quarter-final defeat to Naomh Conaill in Donegal town.
McHugh had to be withdrawn in the first half of the game.
He said: “It’s coming on all right. The lucky thing about it is there’s nothing to rush back for. It’s all about building it back up over the winter and trying to go back into contact in late December or early January.
“It’s handy this time of year where you can rest up a wee bit instead of rushing back for another match or something like that. It’s just about getting it right to make sure it doesn’t come on me again.
“I’m just building it back up in the gym for the next few months.’
McHugh took a year out of inter-county action in 2014 and watched from the sidelines as Donegal reached the All-Ireland final.
But the break energised and refreshed him.
He said: “I went away in 2014 and I’ve been there now again for the last three or four years. Mentally it’s tough with everything going on, commitment wise and with family and with work and everything like that. Where we live it’s in the sticks and we have to travel nearly an hour to get anywhere for training.
“Commitment is a big thing in GAA now at the minute. You’re taking maybe six hours out of your day three or four days a week just to get to training and do the training and drive back, so it does take your toll on you because you’re up maybe the following day for work or the gym session or something like that.
“But we do it for the love of the game and the love of the jersey and as long as you’re able to do it I think why not? Your career is short enough the way it is and however long I’ve left I’ll keep at it.”
Mark McHugh was speaking to launch Trócaire’s ‘Gifts of Love’ Christmas campaign. Last year, people across the island of Ireland bought more than €765,000 worth of Trócaire gifts, which helped over 27,000 families throughout the developing world. To find out more visit www.trocaire.org/giftsTags: