Kevin McLoughlin calls it a day

Photo: Sports Joe

It was announced earlier today that Kevin McLoughlin has decided to retire from the inter-county scene. The official statement from Mayo GAA confirming this is here.

Kevin McLoughlin’s career as a Mayo player spanned a full fifteen seasons. He made his debut in a National League match against Westmeath in March 2009 – a game played at Charlestown, as the stand developments works were underway then at MacHale Park – and in May that year he was one of a quite illustrious group of Mayo players who made their Championship debut in the Connacht SFC match against New York at Gaelic Park.

Kevin’s record as a Mayo player since then marks him out as one of our best in the last decade and a half. He played 91 League games and 77 Championship ones, placing him behind only Andy Moran and Aidan O’Shea – the latter also made his Championship bow that day in the Bronx – in terms of appearances for the Green and Red.

And what a contribution he made. I recall once, maybe in 2014, describing the Knockmore player as “the beating heart” of that Mayo team. So often it felt like he was.

His willow-like frame enabled him to glide around the park effortlessly but there was nothing lacking in the physical stakes about his ravenous tackling and his ability to win dirty ball around the middle.

He could score too, that wand of a left foot arrowing over such memorable points, not least the one against Dublin in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final, after Diarmuid O’Connor’s Herculean dash to the end-line to hack the ball back into his path.

But it was that goal against Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2011 that most will, I suspect, recall about Kevin in the wake of today’s announcement. For if it’s possible to identify the precise moment at which the trajectory of James Horan’s young team shifted from that of so many Mayo teams that went before them, this was it. His run was electric, his finish to the net emphatic. From that moment on, Mayo were a completely different proposition.

Kevin won eight Connacht SFC medals, a record he shares with Aidan O’Shea, as well as two National League medals and two Connacht U21 medals. He was nominated for an All-Star four times and it remains one of the most egregious errors of those charged with picking the All-Stars that he was never once awarded the statuette he so richly deserved. His omission in 2012, in particular, was a scandal.

In the autumn of his career, Kevin’s outsized footballing intelligence was at the heart of Knockmore’s back-to-back Moclair Cup successes in 2020 and 2021. It wasn’t Sam but, like Lee Keegan last year with Westport, it was obvious that this club success rightfully meant a huge amount to him. And, of course, he’s not finished soldiering with his club yet either.

Like all those other greats of the same era, Kevin leaves behind him an illustrious inter-county record in a period where the county competed for national honours relentlessly, year-after-year. His contribution within that team gave Mayo supporters so many great memories and while he said in his statement today that it was a privilege for him to play for Mayo, it was surely a much greater privilege for us fans to have witnessed him display his talents on the national stage in the way he did for so long.

Best wishes to Kevin, his wife Deirdre and his family for the future and heartfelt thanks to him for his undying contribution to the cause over the past fifteen seasons.

64 thoughts on “Kevin McLoughlin calls it a day

  1. Great player, I think under rated by many outside the county. Had so many positive attributes and rarely let us down. As you say WJ, very stylish but able to win more than you would expect in the middle third. Surprisingly, he sometimes seemed to lack confidence. I believe that he played half back at U21, and seem to recall him standing out v’s the Rossies where we stole a win. One of my favourite players down the years. I hope he enjoys the next phase of his career with Knockmore.

  2. What a player and another gent gone to .

    Many great memories of him he also scored a cracker of a point in the extra time against the Dubs in semi in 21 .

    Should have got a celtic cross like so many other great players gone .

    Sad to see him go but had a feeling he would this year.

    Best of luck and enjoy the retirement Kevin & thanks for all the memories !

  3. First thing I thought of when I heard the news today was that goal Kevin scored against Cork. It went a long way in defeating the then all Ireland champions. At the very least Kevin deserved an all star a great footballer and a great servant to Mayo he will be sorely missed. The road to one day winning Sam has got a bit steeper today I think we will have to temper expectations for the next few years Guys like Kevin McLoughlin arent easily replaced.

  4. One of Mayo’s greatest players of all time..Really fantastic player. Thank you Kevin for all the years .

  5. Another stalwart of the last decade and a half gone from the inter-county scene. One of my favourite players. Not unlike Jason Doherty in that his influence on the pitch wasn’t always immediately obvious. Not a wholly unexpected decision but once again your heart would go out to these guys who didn’t make it up the steps of the Hogan stand on All Ireland day. Best of luck Kevin in all your future endeavours…..hopefully this is the last retirement for this year!”

  6. How Dillon got the All Star ahead of Kevin in 2012 will always be a mystery. Some servant particularly during James Horan’s first reign.

  7. Thanks for the great service to mayo kevin , a great link between defence and attack , and always turned up for knock more too

  8. Incredible he never won an allstar. I guess his face just didn’t fit, he didn’t have a big enough profile.

    Superb player involved in so many big decisive moments in the past decade. After Keegan he was probably our most ‘clutch’ player in thar je impacted the biggest games. He was outstanding in the 2017 AI final.

    He should have no regrets

  9. I remember meeting mark mchugh at a function in December 2012 and I told him he had stolen Kevin mcloughlins all star that year .mchugh didn’t play anywhere near right half forward but there doesn’t seem to be any logic on the way all stars are picked

  10. Happy retirement Kevin. I had to laugh at someone once suggesting Kevin wasn’t strong. He was real wirey farmer strong.

  11. In my humble opinion, the best player ever to never win a All Star. Most Mayo players over the past 15 years will tell you he was the most skillful. Had a big impact in the win against Galway last year. We’ll miss him next year. Class act.

  12. A class act and up there with his pal Keegan as the best of this Mayo generation. Would have a trailer load of all-stars if he was played on the halfback line.

  13. An intelligent, deceptively skilful and consistent footballler, Kevin and Tom Parsons were two magnificent servants to Mayo.
    Their high level performances and contributions over the years most unlucky not to merit All star recognition…….
    Will always be fondly remembered….

  14. The most underated player ever to play in a Mayo jersey, what a servant Kevin has been!! Will always remember the day he saved us in Ballybofey in 2018, and the time he got Cluxton sent off in a Croke Park League game in 2013 or 14.In his breakout season getting a solo goal to beat the All Ireland champions Cork in a quarter final. There is so many more moments with Kevin.He was one of the main reasons we bet Galway this year!! Should have started against Dublin in my opinion.
    What I could not understand over the Holmes /Connelly, Rochford and Horan 2nd term was the crazy decision to not play Kevin at Centre half Forward.Thats the position he did the most damage and was at his best.
    2 County Titles 20, 21
    8 Connacht Senior Titles 09 11,12,13,14,15,20 21
    2 Connacht Under 21s 09, 10
    2 National Leagues 19 , 22
    1 Railway cup 14
    1 International Rules 13
    He must be the most decorated Mayo footballer after Cillian of the modern era.

  15. He should have got an all star but in reality what he really wanted was a Celtic cross .that’s what all young players dream of winning

  16. Great piece on an outstanding player. Thanks for everything Kevin. So many great days.

  17. Great servant of Mayo, he was and allowed himself bit like Aiden O Shea to be used to play in many position to help the cause with the result he lost out on maybe a few All Stars.

  18. Best wishes to Kevin on his well deserved retirement. Started in so many big games for so many managers. Great for a score or two when the heat was on, Dublin in 2021 a great example. At a time when we’re struggling to get a well functioning half-forward line, we’ll certainly miss what he brought. A credit in how he played the game as well.

  19. One of my favourite Mayo players, a class act and will be tough to fill those boots. Many a tight corner he took us out of over the last few years.

  20. Robbie Hennelly is now currently the oldest member in the 2023 Mayo panel at 33, followed by Aidan O’Shea.

    Robbie Hennelly 33 90
    Aidan O’Shea 33 90
    Cillian O’Connor 31 92
    Brendan Harrison 31 92
    Rory Byrne 31 92
    Padraig O’Hora 30 93
    Paddy Durcan 29 94
    Darren McHale 29 94
    Diarmuid O’Connor 28 95
    Colm Reape 28 95
    Conor Loftus 28 95
    Stephen Coen 28 95

  21. Thanks for the memories Kevin. So many standout moments in an outstanding career. You’ve been one of the very best to have worn the green and red.

  22. Always my favourite. Best wishes Kev and thanks for everything.

    Got shafted in 2012, a crazy unfathomable decision not granting him the All Star.

  23. What a hero for mayo all these years, intelligent footballer and powerful player, best of luck and good health to you and your family in the future and thanks for your great contribution to mayo football. Thanks for the memories.

  24. Yes one of the best and most consistent performers of golden decade of Mayo football.
    A true legend and the legend will grow as the years go by and the decline of Mayo football becomes more acute. So many highlights he gave us such as the relegation saving last ditch point in donegal a few years back..Enjoy your retirement and look back with pride sir.

  25. My favourite Mayo player of all time. He had/ has a football brain that cannot be taught. He saved us in so many occasions and dragged us from oblivion to almost greatness No one can ever say that Kevin McLoughlin didn’t perform in any given day, a stalwart, a legend to me and an honest hard working player that any county team would have given right arms to have had on board. Best wishes for the rest of your life K Mc. SLÀN.

  26. He was our All Star. Thanks, Kevin.

    Tigerish, tenacious, intelligent in position an on the ball. He could also pick a score. Some of the next generation should take a leaf from his book. Most aren’t at his level yet as witnessed in our inability to win dirty ball v Galway in Salthill this year.

  27. K McL was a Top class player, got some inspirational scores down through the years. Always worked and tackled hard, Good distributor, used his head and took the right options. Another big hole left in the panel.
    Probably his best quality was his courage and heart, he always put up a fight in all the big games v Dublin, Kerry, and Galway etc. The saying “its not the size of the man but the size of the fight in the man” was made for Kevin.

  28. Thanks Kevin. Fantastic player who dedicated much of his life to Mayo football.
    Enjoy more time with the family and the club .

  29. One of my favourite Mayo players ever.

    Never got the plaudits he deserved. Such an intelligent footballer,real pace (which was never really acknowledged)a great step and score getter and the best kick passer on that great team.After Leeroy probably our best big game player,he knitted a lot of it together.

    Thanks for the memories

  30. Difficult decision after outstanding service to Mayo. Like Keegan, he will continue to be a stand out club footballer. Let’s hope he remains involved with football, he has a lot to offer

  31. A top class footballer was Kevin. Still remember him breaking onto the scene and scoring an amazing goal against Cork in the 2011 quarter final. That was a fresh young Mayo team. Where does the time go.
    Thanks for the memories Kev.

  32. Cant believe this man didnt get an all star. Had a feeling himself and Doc would go, but two unsung heroes and both so valuable to the Mayo cause. Kevin dug us out of many holes and so much versatility in his game. Enjoy the retirement Kevin and no doubt we will see you on the club front for another few years.

  33. `A right good man. I always loved to see him on the ball. I hope you will have input for a long time into Mayo football. More reason for the clubs of Mayo and further afield to fear Knockmore too.
    Best of luck to you and yours for the future.
    Up Mayo.

  34. Ah feck. This departure just adds to the feeling that our best days are moving behind us too quickly. I loved Kevin and his athleticism and tigerish determination. Such a dependable and talented footballer. I’m sad to think he’s another one we won’t see grace the biggest stage again. Thank you Kevin and best wishes to you and your family for all the future holds. Maigheo go deo.

  35. What a player,if Kevin had not got the last minute equaliser against London in2011,then this great Mayo adventure might never have got off the ground at all.Good luck Kevin,one of the very best of this or any other generation.

  36. A legend for sure. One of our best players over the past 15 years. Happy retirement Kevin.
    Mile buiochas Caoimhin agus go neiri leath i gconai
    Mhuigeo Abú

  37. I wonder is there any chance we get a few interviews with Liam for the podcast WJ?

    Would make for very interesting listening to see how he would have liked to set up the team.

    All the best to Kevin in his retirement from Mayo. Will go down as a Mayo great and a deep shame he never got an All Ireland or All Star.

  38. Such a super player. Always struck me as least likely to have any ego going on but what a warrior and such skill and balance. We’ll miss him. Thank you Kevin so much.

  39. Kevin was one of the most naturally gifted footballers ever to pull on the Mayo Jersey. We’ve had more than our fair share of talented players but what made Kevin stand out was that he was always prepared to win his own dirty ball and not wait for it to be handed to him on a plate. Thanks for all the many wonderful days out you gave us, you were one of the best. Best of luck to you and your family.

  40. Be interesting one Green&Red, wouldn’t want any of our own state secrets but be interesting to hear what his philosophy was if he were to have a say, or if he was to take over a team himself.
    He’s in shop window now I’m sure for a role, so say he’d be game.

  41. Joet1480 what RTE is reporting today is the reason why Liam McHale left, reading between lines of it Liam had a very offensive philosophy for the team while the rest of the management McStay included are now focusing more on defensive side of things.

    All the best to Kevin McLoughlin on his retirement

  42. Several feel 2012 was the year he most deserved an all star but for me he showed up consistently as one of our best players. Doing McHugh a disservice though to say he didn’t deserve one in 2012 as he had an unreal year covering the length of pitches at high speed. Joint best forward with Murphy that year. But many a case for Kevin Mc’s inclusion. Scored some very important goals too. I recall him coming on at half time in a few big games against Armagh I think and Galway and immediately getting a goal to spark us to life. Kept us in Div 1a few times too with last minute points. Great player and great servant to the County.

  43. On Liam Mc, I think McStay and the rest would have a better winning chance than McHale in the current iteration of the puke football philosophy the GAA should want to alter. I sense McStay is meticulous and always looking at every tactic to swing things our way. We may not have enough star players to win an AI right now unless taking a leaf out of Derry’s playbook to give newbies that confidence. A good year like Derry had could bring new stars to the fore for them. We have Tommy Conroy who’s still very young and could cause absolute havoc next year seeing how good he was on 1st season back from Cruciate. Players are never at their peak on 1st season back from that. Ryan OD is a top player but can be kept somewhat quiet in the odd game because of his size compared to a Clifford who has both the size and the skill. Cillian is still class but we need the new Cillian to come along. Despite that, Dublin wouldn’t have pulled away from us like they did had we not messed up our schedule. If football was structured to reward an attacking philosophy, McHale might be to the fore but unfortunately it’s not. Nevertheless he comes across as a very decent guy in the piece and has shown no bad feelings for the others.

  44. Didn’t say mark mchugh didn’t deserve an all star in 2012 .I said he got one in a position he didn’t play in

  45. Only for Kevin, goal vs Cork, in 2011, I would say up there with the most pivotal score any player scored for Mayo in last 14 years. Instrumental in team, knowing they could compete with best, and beat them. I know that a bold statement, considering Cillian score, in all ireland final to get a draw. But Kevin started us on a journey/ roller coaster for past 14 year. From highs, to very low points, but what a journey

  46. Best of luck with Knockmore in the future Kevin and thanks for the memories.
    A sad day for Mayo football and I for one am happy to have seen you don the Green and Red and work your magic jinking runs. Still think about the 9 or so steps taken in Ballybofey before clipping a beauty to keep Mayo in Div 1. A true Legend.

  47. Best of luck to Liam Mchale , listened to his interview there found it very enjoyable. The interview was more based on his personal journey from boyhood to the present . A staunch Mayo man that’s for sure and you can tell how much it hurt , that ridiculous sending off in 96 . I really admired his brutal honesty which is rare on an incident from so long ago , put it this way I doubt pat the cheat mcanneany would be on Liam Mchales Xmas card list .

    The quest for Sam Maguire isn’t just about the present team , it’s about all them teams right back to 89 .

  48. That’s it Seán. McHale was shafted in 96 and in turn so were us all. That final hurts the most of all of them since 89. If I expressed my genuine feelings about McAnaney I’d be banned from the blog and you can add that cheat from Meath who rode us in Limerick too.

  49. Thought provoker. If we went down the route of togging lots of height and power does that give us a better Sam chance? Obviously with a level of being an existing county or strong club player ability.
    The reason I ask is we always have lots of potential pick that are tall let’s say 6’2″ +
    So, it’s not at all subtle but if the opposition keeper is looking out at a wall of 6’2″-6’5″s.
    Lets say ten such players togged.

  50. For me it’s a bit more guile and craft and ability to think on the hoof and spot an opportunity when one arises has let us down more.The Kevin Mc in his prime type.
    We had a fair bit of height around the diamond last year but fared poorly enough, especially on breaking ball.
    Mind you Liam Mc Hale used to say ”you can’t coach height ”.

  51. Breaking ball specialist. A thief in the night. When the ball broke in midfield on the kick out, Kevin always emerged with the ball . Always. Especially in Croker. Horan had him primed for that. Be our ball getter

    As for how highly he rates ask any Dublin player who did battle with him in the last 15 years for starters, you would get nothing but the highest of praise

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