The Bundoran B&Bs have a full house of medals

By Gerry McLaughlin


By Gerry McLaughlin

Brooke Gavigan, daughter of manager, Brian, sporting the Bundoran colours on Sunday in Letterkenny.
The Son also rises.

The Son also rises.

For, last Sunday Bundoran boss Brian Gavigan joined the seaside town’s most famous ‘B and Bs’.

And Brian and his feisty father, Billy Gavigan share in a quite a remarkable family treble.

In his prime Billy Gavigan was a thin dark, shard of a lad, light as ballet dancer and always knew where the posts were on the team of all talents from St Joseph’s.

He had a memorable Afro that distinguished him from his teammates.

But when that famous Bundoran/Ballyshannon amalgamation broke up in the mid 1970s, Billy went on to win Bundoran’s first Intermediate championship in 1977 as captain with Brian “Ogie” McEniff as player/manager.

Two years later Bundoran went on to win a Donegal senior county title by beating Sean MacCumhaill’s in the county decider.

That was in the hairy years of the mullet, the greatest single crime against fashion since the shirt and tie to match, but Billy Gavigan was also strongly connected with Bundoran’s next Intermediate triumph in 2010.

Billy was the team manager and Brian was a key member of that side.

And Billy then went on to manage neighbouring Melvin Gaels to a remarkable double of a Leitrim Intermediate county title in 2011 and a Senior county title in 2012.

Three county titles in three years in two different provinces must be a bit of a record by any standards, but last Sunday was the most special day of all for ‘B” senior.

For another record family treble was completed playing real champagne football.

It is slightly over 48 hours after Realt na Mara’s memorable victory over Naomh Colmcille, and Billy is still savoring the fruits of victory in his Bird’s Nest public house.

Billy and his comrades had their historic Intermediate triumph in the year Elvis died, Dublin beat Kerry in a famous All-Ireland semi-final, and Sean MacCumhaill’s won their last Donegal county title after beating Gaoth Dobhair in the final.

He is a very youthful 64 as he remembers a Bundoran team initially struggling before eventually disposing of Convoy in an historic first Intermediate title for the Seasiders.

His son Brian was only a year old when that victory was achieved.

Billy was 26 at the time and at the height of his powers.

“I was on the St Joseph’s team but missed out on the All-Ireland club final victory over Dunmore MacHale’s due to injury but that Intermediate victory was very important for us.

“It was a great pity that St Joseph’s had to break up but I suppose we had to make the best of it.

‘We won the Donegal SFL title the same year and the senior county title two years later.

“That was a great boost for Bundoran and we had a number of players who were in their 30s on that 1979 team.

‘I played for Bundoran for another 20 years and did not quit until I was in my mid 40s”.

But like his son, Billy took up the management game and guided Donegal Boston to their first senior title in 2002, and 39 year-old Brian was a very youthful part of that successful team.

Fathers managing sons can be a bit tricky at the best of times and Billy admits that there was some spirited debates at times.

“Brian was a far better footballer than me.

“He was a playmaker and thought a lot about the game even as a young lad.

“I remember when I managed the Bundoran team that beat Cloughaneely in the 2010 Intermediate final; we lost Tommy Hourihane because the County Board changed the match on account of the All-Ireland hurling final.

“Tommy was getting married and he was our free taker.

“Brian was playing at half-forward but came to me and asked me to leave him off in favour of Michael McEniff, who was pretty accurate.

“We won that match and Brian came on as a sub but he was always looking at the bigger picture”.

But the ‘B and B’ story continued in 2011 when Brian was Billy’s assistant manager when Billy took Melvin Gaels to an Intermediate title that year, and a senior county title the following year.

Billy has continued in management and took charge of Cootehall in Roscommon last year.

And he admitted that the management bug still bites strongly as he is not ruling out taking charge of a club nearer home.

“Bundoran always had skillful, able players and believed they were better than other teams.

‘But they just could not produce it when it really mattered.

“However I noticed a big change in this year’s squad.

“They have some very talented young players and a nice blend with a few older lads, but the lads in Dublin trained with the rest of the team at venues in Longford this year.

‘That is an indication of this team’s true commitment and they gave a really inspirational display against Naomh Colmcille.

“The first 20 minutes were as near a perfect display as you would get as they really set down a marker and won very comfortably.

“I was very proud of Brian and the team, but they will need to re-focus fairly sharpish for Clann Eireann in Ballyshannon on Sunday,” said Billy.