Naomh Conaill’s Thompson brothers are joining a unique band of brothers when they line out for Naomh Conaill against St. Eunan’s in next Sunday’s Donegal Senior Championship final in Sean MacCumhaill Park.
In over 100 years of Donegal seniors of Donegal senior finals Aaron, Leon, Anthony and Ciaran are set to become only the third set of four brothers to play in a county senior decider. They are following in the footsteps of the famed Lavertys from Sean MacCumhaills and the Dohertys from Ardara.
Harry, Bernard, John and Mickey Laverty were members of the Sean MacCumhaill’s team that defeated Kilcar 2-7 to 1-6 in 1959 to become the first set of four brothers to get their hands on the coveted Dr Maguire Cup. Eamon, Joseph, Michael and Conal Doherty were the next when Ardara upset the odds to overcome St Eunan’s 1-9 to 0-7 in the 2000 decider.
The Lavertys and the Dohertys are due to be joined this week by the Thompson clan with all four, who featured in the semi-final win over Kilcar, expected to make the starting line-up once again for this Sunday’s showdown with St. Eunan’s.
“There is great colour and plenty of flags up around the town but the build up so far is low key and that is the way we like to keep it and all I seem to be doing these days is washing football gear,” says Mary Thompson, the four boys’ mother.
“The boys are all living at home here with us and with all the training and the games there is plenty of football gear to wash most days but at least the weather has been good and there is no bother with drying.
“It is not new to Anthony and Leon. They have played in four finals and won two of them and of course Anthony played in two All-Ireland finals and won one and he is taking it in his stride.
“But it is a first final for both Aaron and Ciaran. You could say Aaron is a late developer; he is a 32 and only made his senior debut when he was 30. Ciaran is only 20. Both Aaron and Ciaran are taking it in their stride and like the other two lads and the rest of us are looking forward to the final.
“I know I give out about all the washing sometimes and bags and gear thrown everywhere but we are very proud of the lads and we are glad to have them all at home. Anthony was working in London for a while but it is good to have him back home and only for the football he would be still away and only for the football a lot more of the lads would be away too and Glenties would be a ghost town.
“I’m sure it is the same for a lot of small towns around the country, only for the GAA there would be no young people around and the would be deserted.”
Mary Thompson, nee Bonner is a native of Glenties and her husband Anthony hails from Tulsk in Roscommon and was born and reared a stone’s throw away from the birthplace of the famous songwriter, poet and artist Percy French.
Mary is steeped in the GAA tradition and hails from a long tradition of involvement in the association. Two of her uncles Phil Bonner, (a brother of her father) and John McNelis were star footballers of their time and both played for Donegal. Phil Bonner was from Glenties and played with Glenties and Donegal in the 1950s and John McNelis featured both in the green and gold of Ardara and Donegal in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.
The Thompson lineage in Roscommon football’s past is a little less distinguished but Anthony Thompson senior played for years with Tulsk Lord Edwards and was a forward of some repute in Roscommon in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Anthony and Mary Thompson have one daughter Emily who is one of the stars of Naomh Conaill Ladies senior team.
Maybe it is an omen but Sean MacCumhaill’s won the 1959 final and Ardara conquered St Eunan’s in the 2000 final.