The genius that is Paddy McCourt believes playing his part in helping Finn Harps regain their top flight status was the perfect finale to his illustrious playing career.
The Derry Pele’s swansong came on Friday evening as the Donegal men saw off Limerick to win the promotion play-off and return to the League of Ireland Premier Division and he insists he’s happy with his decision to hang up his boots.
“To be honest, it was something I was able to prepare for because I announced it four or five months ago and I was able to get my head around it,” he stated.
“Now there might be a day when it really hits home but as of now, I’m busy with the other stuff I have got going. I’m trying to put things in a place at Derry City so I haven’t had time to over analyse retirement too much.
“I have no interest in playing on as I have enjoyed the career I’ve had. I’ll probably keep training and stay fit but only for that purpose. I won’t be changing my mind or anything like that as I’m fully focused now on this new role at Derry City and I’m going to be directing most of my energy towards that.”
The ex-Celtic man praised the Harps management duo of Ollie Horgan and Paul Hegarty and said finishing with Harps back in the big time was a great feeling.
“My main focus was getting Harps back up. As I said before, it wasn’t going to effect me too much as I was retiring but I wanted to leave on a high, especially after the disappointment of getting relegated last year. To come straight back up and then leave under those circumstances is definitely a good feeling and I was delighted for everyone involved with the club who will be there next year to have another crack at the Premier Division.
“I didn’t make any secret of my admiration for Paul and Ollie. Obviously my relationship with Paul Hegarty goes back to when we worked together at Derry and then meeting and working Ollie over the last couple of years, I have a lot of time for both of them. And not only theose two, all the other people in and around Harps, who worked hard behind the scenes, to get that promotion for them and to finish on a high was very, very pleasing.
McCourt is already looking forward to his next footballing chapter as Director of Youth Development at his home town club, Derry City.
“I made a decision that I wanted to go back to my home town club and try to help the next generation of players coming through and that’s something I’m really looking forward to doing. I’m really excited about it. I do think with all the right people pulling in the one direction, the talent, which has always been in and around the North West, they will want to come to Derry City.
I made a decision that I wanted to go back to my home town club and try to help the next generation of players coming through and that’s something I’m really looking forward to doing and I’m really excited about it.Paddy McCourt
“We want to create something within the academy that’s better than what’s out there because we will get the best players coming to play for Derry City Academy, to then hopefully go on to the first team.”
The 34-year-old admits scoring his first goal at Parkhead for Celtic against Hearts in 2010 will always be the stand out moment of his playing career.
“I have had lots of special memories, from winning trophies with my home town club and winning trophies with a club who I supported as a boy, but the special moment for me was scoring my first goal at Celtic Park,” he added.
“Everybody dreams of scoring a goal for the club they supported as a young fella so to actually do that, especially after the earlier set-back in my career where I probably thought it got away from me, was special.
“I remember sitting that night going ‘regardless of what happens from now, that’s something that can never be taken away from me’. That’s something I will look back on fondly for the rest of my life, just watching that goal again.
“It could have been a two yard tap-in, but to just actually do it was special.