Donegal All-Ireland heroes of 1992 were back in action at the weekend as they rolled back the clock twenty years and once again faced the mighty Dubs.
The years and miles have been clocked up in the intervening two decades and the hairlines may have receded – for those that still have hair – and the tog sizes in some cases have moved to x-large with maybe one or two stretching to xx-large.
But in some cases none of those silken skills that saw the team of ’92 crowned All-Ireland champions have faded with the years. As he did in ’92, Manus Boyle once again stole the show when it came to scoring. The Killybegs ace scored 0-9 on that fateful day back in September ’92. Well he matched it again on Saturday night, this time scoring 1-6 as the ‘Killer Bs – Tony and Manus and Declan Bonner - caused endless problems for the Dublin rearguard.
Another thing that did not change with the passing of time either. Tony Boyle, as he always maintained, was the provider and Manus and Declan did the scoring and took all the kudos. It was the same again on Saturday night, even if this writer may be looking through slightly tinted glasses.
Charlie Mulgrew, who never lost the trademark Mulgrew shimmy also, was among the goal scorers as was Sylvester Maguire with his right. Make sure you report it was with his right quipped mentor Micheal Lafferty after Sylvester had coolly placed the ball under the advancing Dublin ‘keeper Dave Carroll.
It was that kind of game. Wise cracks and good humour prevailed from both inside and outside the fence on a beautiful sunny evening at St. Anne’s GAA ground in Boohernabreena in South Dublin.
Brian McEniff’s main gripe before the throw-in was it was the first time that he had no say whatsoever in the selection of the team.
Donegal were in front 2-5 to 0-5 at the end of the first 25 minute, with Mulgrew and Maguire bagging the goals. Former Wicklow star Kevin O’Brien, specially brought in for the game by Dublin manager Joe McNally, did the bulk of the Dublin scoring in the first period and indeed it was a pretty similar story in the second half too, when it came to the Sky Blues scoring.
Donegal fielded the bulk of the 1992 side with Donal Reid – otherwise occupied with the Donegal camp ahead of Sunday’s big game – Martin Gavigan, Martin McHugh and of course Jim McGuinness were the only absentees.
Skipper Anthony Molloy was present for a photo call but was in a rush to the studios of RTE for Up for the Match.
Vinny Murphy, Tommy Carr and Mick Deegan were the most recognisable of the Dubs from ’92 on view.
As was the case too in ’92 Martin Shovlin did not start but came on as a sub shortly after arriving late due to Sat Nav problems. But once on the field the Naomh Ultan man had no problem finding his bearings as he ran around like a March hare.
Donegal controlled most of the shortened second half – reduced to 20 minutes due fading light – and were well ahead at the finish and much further than referee Lee Moroney’ s final score of 3-11 to 2-11. This reporter had it at 4-11 to 2-8 and even at that at least one good looking Donegal goal was ruled out by the official.
But the scoreline or the margin of victory did not matter all that much. This was a social gathering as much as anything else and also had a charitable dimension to it.
The proceeds all went to the Great Garda Run Chairity, whose chosen charity this year is the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
The attendance was estimated by one local official at in the region of 1,000 most of whom were clad in the green and gold all in the City for Sunday’s big game.
The game was organised by Donegal 1992 midfielder Brian Murray and a member of the Great Garda Run charity.
Donegal: Gary Walsh; Barry McGowan, John Cunningham, Noel Hegarty; John Joe Doherty, Mark Crossan, Paul Carr; Brian Murray (0-1), Barry Cunningham; Tommy Ryan, Charlie Mulgrew (1-0), Joyce McMullan (0-2); Declan Bonner (0-1), Tony Boyle, Manus Boyle (1-6, 2f, 1,45). Subs: Martin Shovlin, Michael Gallagher, Sylvester Maguire (1-0), Matt Gallagher (0-1), Brendan McCready, Paul Callaghan.
Dublin: Dave Carroll; Ciaran Richardson, Ciaran Walsh, Wayne Daly; Darren Fulham, Tommy Carr, Paul Nugent; Ken Murray, Mick Deegan; Enda Sheehy, Padraig Dwane, Dave Delap; Peter Joyce, Vinny Murphy, Kevin O’Brien. Sub: John Flood.
Referee: Lee Moroney (Dublin)