Reports of my retirement just not true, insists Hughes
Published 05/03/2014 | 02:30
Down's former All Star Danny Hughes insists that he has not retired from inter-county football, saying he was "surprised" to read reports that he had stood down from Mourne duty.
Down manager James McCartan intimated after Saturday's night's 19-point Division 2 win over Louth that Hughes had called time on his inter-county career.
But Hughes has said he never indicated he was retiring and could be open to a return at some stage in the future if his injuries recovered sufficiently and his form improved.
Hughes has been plagued with injuries in recent years – he had groin surgery last year – but said his desire to play inter-county football hasn't diminished.
"I didn't use that word 'retired'," he stressed. "The last time I was talking to James a couple of months ago I said I was just committing to club football for now, because I've had a raft of injuries this last couple of years.
"I wanted to go back and play club football, give commitment there and get fit and injury-free before I started to torture the Down physios. I thought it was better for Down and myself.
"I was non-commital about going back this season. I was certainly surprised to see that I was 'retired.'
"But that's fine. I have no issue with it. Down has been very good to me and I've always given everything. How many more years am I going to get, I couldn't say," added Hughes who is getting married later in the year.
Hughes admitted that injuries have hit him hard mentally as well as physically in recent years and his absence from the game has really challenged him.
"Ask any inter-county footballer and they will tell you the same. I trained maybe twice a day at times," he said. "When you step away and have injuries like that, your whole life changes. It's very hard to fill that void."
Hughes' form for Down as a playmaking half-forward in tandem with Martin Clarke earned him a place on the shortlist for the Vodafone Footballer of the Year award in 2010, along with eventual winner Bernard Brogan and Michael Shields.
At 32 he still feels he could be an asset to Down if he could put his troubles behind him.
"I just want to go back and play club football (with Saval) and if I was playing out of my skin and felt I could offer something, obviously I'd be open to it (returning)," he said.
"Look, maybe that won't happen and James has to move on with what he has. To be fair to him he has to look at the team and say 'right, I really don't want to be asked about Danny any more.'
"But I haven't made a firm decision that I am definitely not going back."