Mark McHugh

For the rugby player of the same name, see Mark McHugh (rugby union).
Mark McHugh
Personal information
Irish name Marc Mac Aodh
Sport Gaelic Football
Position Right Half Forward
Born (1990-08-22) 22 August 1990
Letterkenny, Ireland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Occupation Account Manager with Iradio
Years Club
2007- Chíll Chartha
Years County
2009- Donegal
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 2
All-Irelands 1
All Stars 1

Mark McHugh (born 22 August 1990) is an Irish Gaelic footballer. A player with his local club Chíll Chartha and the Donegal senior inter-county teamwith whom he has won two Ulster Senior Football Championships (2011, 2012) and one All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (2012)McHugh has garnered comparisons with the iconic soccer player Lionel Messi from admirers across the sport.[1]

Early life

McHugh is the son of Martin, the BBC television analyst and All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winner in 1992. He was born the Wednesday after his father's Donegal side were defeated by Meath in the semi-final of the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.[2] His son Ryan also plays for the Donegal minor team.[3] Mark McHugh's uncle James also played in the 1992 All-Ireland Final and received an All Star in 1992. He has a dog called Miley, who has been photographed inside the Sam Maguire Cup.[4] Miley is named after J. R. Ewing's dog from the U.S. TV show Dallas.

Playing career


McHugh admits his club does not have many big games.[5]


McHugh did not play at minor level, what with the Leaving Certificate and a broken collar bone. He made his senior championship debut as a substitute against Down in Ballybofey in 2010.[5] He was part of the 2011 team that won the Ulster Senior Football Championship, and played in the final against Derry.[6]

McHugh returned to the Ulster Senior Football Championship Final in 2012 in his third campaign,[7][8][9] before helping Donegal all the way to the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in which he played.[10] After that game he said, "The woman I'm going to have to marry is going to have to be very, very good to top this day off for me".[11] McHugh sang his wee heart out at the homecoming when he joined in with Rory Gallagher on "Jimmy's Winning Matches".

McHugh missed Donegal's 2013 National Football League campaign with a pelvis injury.[12] He returned for the 2013 Ulster Senior Football Championship but was forced off injured early on the final after a collision with Stephen Gollogly of Monaghan, and was hospitalised as a result.[13][14] He was ruled out for a month with the multiple injuries Gollogly's rough play gave him, including concussion, a perforated eardrum and a quad muscle injury.[15]

McHugh made a substitute appearance against Monaghan in the 2014 National Football League Division 2 Final at Croke Park. Three days later, it was confirmed that McHugh was one of four players to have left the Donegal county panel, less than a month before the county's Ulster Championship game against Derry.[16] Later he admitted, "I just needed a break. I wasn't enjoying what I was doing and me being there didn't help the mood in the camp. And I thought its [sic] not good for me being here and it’s probably not good for other players so I stepped away. Going away was a decision I made and I knew I wouldn't be in the team if I stepped away. I made that decision."[17] In his absence Donegal qualified for a second All-Ireland final in three years, with McHugh's brother Ryan helping himself to two goals against Dublin in the semi-final after being left to the bus by Mark, who sat by "and watched as he became a household name in one afternoon".[18] Ahead of the final McHugh the Elder admitted he was "looking forward to [...] rebuilding for next year of myself and the club championship, playing well and hopefully with Jim next year or whoever that may be and ask me back into the panel. [sic]"[17]

McHugh rejoined the Donegal panel ahead of the 2015 season.[19]


McHugh has played for Ulster in the Inter-Provincial Series.[20]


McHugh's performances in 2012 earned him repeated descriptions of being "Donegal's pivotal player".[21] He is considered "as lively a wire as his father Martin was in his heyday",[22] and has been called the "Lionel Messi" of a Donegal team widely said to resemble FC Barcelona in terms of the quality of their style and shock and awe tactics.[1][23] Daniel O'Donnell himself has personally thanked McHugh.[24]




  1. 1 2 "Jimmy's like Messi! Donegal are the Barcelona of GAA, say Cork legends". Donegal Daily. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012. Double All-Ireland winner Tony Davis stood by his insistence that Donegal played awful defensive gaelic football last year. But he has changed his mind now about this year's team – and reckons Donegal play GAA the way Barcelona play soccer! For McHugh, think Messi, he says.
  2. "Legends: Martin McHugh, Part 2". 23 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  3. "The 'Wee Man' was big". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  4. "Mark McHugh's pet pooch gets to meet Sam". Donegal Daily. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  5. 1 2 ""It's all to play for" - McHugh". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  6. "Donegal Ulster Champions: Players hail maestro McGuinness". Donegal Daily. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  7. "What Jim says is all that matters - McHugh". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  8. "McHugh not satisfied with display". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  9. "Donegal's new style untested in stroll past Derry". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  10. "Live updates from the All-Ireland finals at Croke Park". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  11. "Donegal's victory poses problem for prospective wife of Mark McHugh". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  12. "Donegal's Mark McHugh set to miss start of National League". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  13. "As it happened: Monaghan v Donegal, Ulster senior football final". The Score. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  14. Diallo, Raf (22 July 2013). "Mark McHugh a doubt for Donegal qualifier". Newstalk. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  15. "Mark McHugh to miss Laois qualifier after suffering concussion, perforated eardrum". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  16. "Donegal stunned by shock departure of Mark McHugh". BBC Sport. BBC. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  17. 1 2 "Mark McHugh on leaving Donegal's panel, New York travel and supporting brother Ryan: The 2012 All-Ireland winner has no regrets at not being part of the current squad". The Score. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  18. Boyle, Donnchadh (12 September 2014). "Mark McHugh: I don't regret missing Donegal's season". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  19. "Mark McHugh rejoins the Donegal football squad". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  20. "Murphy to spearhead Ulster challenge". Hogan Stand. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  21. Keys, Colm (6 August 2012). "Donegal eyes on the big prize: McFadden twists knife as curtain falls on illustrious Kingdom era". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 6 August 2012. McHugh is now Donegal's pivotal player, the man whose role has now done most to develop their game from 2011. He worked well as a sweeper around the McGee brothers, who were tasked with minding Donaghy and Colm Cooper, but it was the young Kilcar man's playmaking from those deep positions that really stood out.
  22. Foley, Cliona (3 May 2010). "Murphy penalty agony hands crown to Dublin". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  23. O'Shea, Joe (27 August 2012). "Donegal one step from Sam after 20-year wait". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 27 August 2012. Cork never really got going. Outnumbered, out-sung and watching a supposedly "negative" team suddenly transform themselves into the FC Barcelona of Gaelic Football, the Rebels were left muttering about "lads who didn't show up" and a manager who, to many of them at least, made some questionable calls...
  24. Keys, Colm (28 August 2012). "Donegal stand united in rise from the ashes: McGuinness evolution based around brains as well as brawn". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 28 August 2012. In the bowels of the Hogan Stand sometime on Sunday evening last, Daniel O'Donnell, wearing what looked like a retro Donegal jersey, made his way discreetly up to Mark McHugh and expressed gratitude to the young man for what he and his colleagues had done for their county.
  25. "Donegal team clean up on Sunday Game Team of the Year". Donegal Daily. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
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