Fergal Doherty retires from Derry football duty

Fergal Doherty played his final game for Derry against Galway in July
Fergal Doherty after his final game for Derry in the qualifiers defeat by Galway in July

Derry midfielder Fergal Doherty has announced his retirement from inter-county football.

The Bellaghy man made his championship debut against Antrim as a 19-year-old in 2001 and was part of the Derry team narrowly beaten by Galway in that year's All-Ireland semi-finals.

Doherty helped Derry win the Football League title in 2008.

He opted out of the Derry squad for four years before he returned to the panel in 2014.

A Derry GAA statement described Doherty as a "living legend of Derry football".

"On behalf of all members and supporters of Derry GAA, we sincerely thank him for his efforts throughout many years," added the statement.

Doherty said that he had been forced to call time on his Derry career "due to ongoing work commitments and recurring injuries".

"It has been a privilege and an honour to wear the red and white jersey representing our county," added the 33-year-old.

"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."

Derry's new boss Barton said that Doherty's "immense presence will be missed".

"It is now up to the new generation of Derry footballer to replicate the same qualities which Fergal Doherty demonstrated," continued the Derry manager.

Former Derry manager and the county's current director football Brian McIver said Doherty was a "pleasure to work with at all times".

"He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game," said McIver.