By Shaun Casey
TWO-TIME Nickey Rackard Cup winner Simon Doherty announced his retirement from intercounty hurling last weekend after 13-years with Armagh. Doherty, who earned two Champion 15 All-Stars in 2019 and 2021, said the time felt right to finally step away.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a number of months,” said the St John’s clubman. “Having had a couple of conversations with people close to me and my own thoughts, I feel content in terms of what I’ve been able to give to Armagh over the last 13 years.
“I’ve been very lucky to have achieved a lot of the things that I have achieved. I’m really lucky to have been part of a team that got to three Ulster finals and played in six Nickey Rackard finals, winning two. I’m content that now is the right time to move on and give the younger guys their opportunity.
“I loved every second I was on the training field, every second I pulled on an Armagh jersey, I absolutely loved every second. It is a very tough decision, but I feel it’s a great opportunity to give the next goalkeeper that opportunity I was given.”
There were plenty of career highlights but overcoming old rivals Down to earn promotion to Division 2A in 2016 tops the list.
“The biggest highlight is the National League final in 2016. We had prepared really well, we finished second to Down who were the only team that beat us, and we ended up playing them in the final.
“The training had been really good, really positive and everybody was so motivated that day,” recalled Doherty. “The feeling in the dressing room beforehand, the adrenaline was just flowing through everybody, and we were ready to perform.
“We were exceptional on the day from start to finish and it was such a feeling of euphoria whenever that whistle was blown, that was probably the highlight and probably the most memorable day I had in an Armagh jersey.”
There were heartache too of course, including four Nickey Rackard Cup final defeats in the space of five seasons. “The biggest disappointments were the 2015 final against Roscommon and 2019 final against Sligo. Both were lost by a point with the last puck of the game, and they were unbelievably heart-breaking.
“Those were disappointments but there weren’t too many others because we had the opportunity to play in a number of finals, including Ulster finals against Antrim and we gave a good account of ourselves every time.
“Every time this group of players pulled on the jersey, they’ve represented their team with such pride and honour, and I feel privileged to have been part of that group for so long.”