Donegal’s ultimate success in 1992 was achieved because of a great group of players. There was also a very good back-up team which manager Brian McEniff assembled. Included were:
Michael Lafferty from the Sean MacCumhaill’s club in the Twin Towns, was one of Brian McEniff’s mentors in 1992.
Michael played at all levels for the county from minor up to senior and is the proud holder of two Ulster Senior Championships, one as captain, and is also a double Railway Cup winner with Ulster. He is another of Donegal’s centurions having played 106 senior games in the green and gold.
Before being drafted into the 1990s backroom team, Mickey had already built of a reputation as a shrewd football man, having been a member of Tom Conaghan’s 1982 All-Ireland U-21 winning management team, the first Donegal team to win an All-Ireland football title.
“I first became aware of Michael when he was at school in St. Macartan’s in Monaghan, my old Alma Mater and the word from my contacts there was good on him,” said Brian McEniff.
“I selected him on the county minor team of 1972, and drafted him into the senior team the following season and he made his senior championship against Tyrone in Ballybofey in the summer of 1973.
“He was at midfield the following year when we won a second Ulster title and he was at centre half-back and captain in 1983 when we won Ulster again.
“When I was appointed manager again in 1990, he was one of the first men I turned to and asked to join my management team.
“He was a great reader of the game and was very quick to spot a difficulty on the field and point it out. He was very forthright too and was never afraid to speak his mind, but always commanded the respect of the players and the rest of the management team. He was a very good mentor and I always count him as a very good friend and when I returned again as manager in 2003 he again joined me in the dugout, despite managing a club in Tyrone.”
Following his Donegal days, Michael got involved in club management and spent a number of years with Glenfin, leading the Gaeltacht Lar club to an Ulster Intermediate title in 2001 and he also had a spell managing Aghyaran in Tyrone. He is currently not involved in football other than an ardent follower of Donegal.
Michael Lafferty - Factfile
Senior Championship debut: 1973, Tyrone in Sean MacCumhaill Park
Last Senior Championship game: 1986, Down, in Newcastle, Co. Down
Ulster SFC: 1974, 1983 (Player) 1990, 1992 (Mentor)
All-Ireland SFC: 1992 (Mentor)
All- Ireland U-21: 1982 (Mentor)
Railway Cup: 1983, 1982.
Donegal SFC: 1977 Sean MacCumhaill’s.
Donegal Town man Seamus Bonner, a member of the Civil Service club in Dublin, was also one of Brian McEniff’s lieutenants in the early 1990s and a member of the 1992 backroom team.
Seamus Bonner had a long and illustrious playing career with Donegal spanning two decades and 129 games in the 1970s and ‘80s.
He is a three time Ulster Senior Championship winner and along with Brian McEniff, holds the distinction of being involved in Donegal’s first five Ulster championship wins, three as a player and two as a mentor.
“I first came across Seamus playing for Drumbar back in the 1960s, before he moved to Four Masters and then to Dublin and joined the Civil Service club and was on the first Ulster winning team in 1972 at midfield,” explained Brian McEniff.
“He moved to full-forward for the 1974 season and took to the position like a duck to water and scored seven goals in four games; four against Antrim, two against Down and one against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“He was a good football man and had a cool head and was always cool on the line when others and myself might be getting excited.
“Seamus was based in Dublin, too, which was big help because we had a couple of lads living in the city at the time. He held strong views and opinions and was not afraid to voice his opinion, got on well with everyone and was well liked by everybody in the set-up and is a genuine nice fella.”
He also had a successful club playing career with Civil Service in Dublin and won a Dublin championship with the club and after 1994 when Brian McEniff stepped down, he went into management on his own.
Following his Donegal days he had a short spell managing Leitrim.
Seamus Bonner - Factfile
Donegal championship debut: 1972 v Down in Ballybofey
Last championship game: 1985 v Monaghan
Appearances for Donegal: 129
Ulster SFC: 1972, 1974, 1983, 1990 and 1992 (as mentor)
All-Ireland SFC: 1992 (mentor)
Dublin Senior Championship: 1980 with Civil Service as captain.
Anthony Harkin from Ardara, was the team coach and trainer in 1992. An accomplished midfielder Anthony was a member of a star studded Thomond College team that won an All-Ireland club final, a team that included such legends of the game as Brian Mullins, Pat Spillane and Mick Spillane and Brian Talty.
He was also a senior championship winner with his native Ardara and played three championship campaigns in the green and gold of Donegal in the late 1970s.
But it was as a coach that he really made his mark and in the late 1980s and for much of the 1990s was recognised as one of the leading GAA coaches and authorities in the country.
“I brought Anthony into the county team in 1997, it was at the end of first term, I got the sack shortly afterwards and I was not involved that much in his county playing days.
But he was a good footballer and had played on a very good Thomond College team in Limerick with Brian Mullins, Pat Spillane and Brian Talty and fellow Donegal man Mickey Houston.
“He is a highly qualified coach and very well respected in Ulster and coaching circles nationally and he was the team trainer/coach and also acted as a mentor in ‘92.
He was a brilliant trainer and a real driving force behind the success. He had the players in great shape and he was a good football man too. Anthony knew his football and was not afraid to give his opinion and advice on a how well a player was going in training.
“He was well ahead of his time as a coach and was one of the top coaches in the country at the time and played a big part in the ‘92 success.”
Since 1992 and after Brian McEniff stepped down in 1994, Anthony has been involved in a number of coaching roles with his home club. He also renewed his partnership with Brian McEniff during his last stint in the management hot seat between 2003-2005.
He is the current Donegal County Coaching Officer having been elected to the position last December.
Anthony Harkin - Factfile
Donegal career: 1974-1979
Donegal championship debut: 1977 v Derry in Ballybofey
All-Ireland SFC: 1992 (coach)
Ulster SFC: 1990, 1992 (coach)
Donegal SFC: 1981 with Ardara
Democrat Cup: 1989
Shield: 1979, 1980
U-16 Co. Championship: 1971 (with Glenties)
Loch an Iuir: with St. Eunan’s College.
All-Ireland Club Championship: 1978 with Thomond College
Dungloe clubman Naul McCole completed the main body of the 1992 Donegal management team. The Burtonport man, better known throughout the county and further afield as an administrator, is a former county minor. And he also won two senior championship medals and two county league medals with Dungloe.
He has served as county senior board and minor board chairman as well as a number of positions on both the Ulster Council and at national level and is currently a member of the National Irish Language and Culture committee in Croke Park. He is also currently chairman of the Ulster Hearings’ committee and is a member of the Ulster hurling committee and the Seamus De Faoite Work Group on the provincial body.
“Myself and Naul go back a long way. I remember as a young lad seeing play county minor and I got to know him years later when he was county minor board chairman,” said Brian McEniff.
“He joined me as a selector in 1990 and was with me right through until I stepped down in 1994. And as were all the mentors, he was very loyal and became a very good friend.
“As well as mentor he also doubled as the kit man and I recall when he was elected county chairman in 1992, saying to him we can’t have the county chairman looking after the gear. But he wouldn’t hear tell of me getting someone else. He insisted on continuing to look after the gear and that really typified the character in the man. No job was too big or too small for Naul, he wanted to play his part. He was a wise old head too and he was a great link with the county board and especially the county executive.”
After Brian McEniff stepped down in 1994, Naul served one more year as county chairman before going on to represent Donegal on the Ulster Council for the next 14 years.
Naul McCole - Factfile
Donegal Co. Chairman: 1992 - 1995
Donegal Minor Chairman: 1978 - 19981
Ulster Council rep: 2005 to 2009
Donegal Vice-Chairman: 2010
Donegal SFC: 1957, 1958
Donegal League: 1960, 1961
The medical and advisory team in 1992 were:
Dr. Austin O’Kennedy - team doctor
Dr. Austin had been the team doctor during Tom Conaghan’s term ahead of Brian McEniff, taking over as manager in 1990.
“Dr. Austin remained on when I was appointed. He was highly qualified and had done a number of specialist courses on sport injuries in England. He was one of the best qualified doctors on sport injuries at the time in the country,” explained Brian McEniff.
“We were very fortunate to have him. He was an excellent medic and he was very forthright and never shied away from calling it as he saw it when it came to players and injuries.”
Pauric McShea - the man in the Stand
A life long friend of Brian McEniff, Pauric always had the ear of the manager and was his eyes and ears in the Stand, long before it became fashionable.
“Pauric was an extra set of eyes I had in the stand. He was and still is a good football man and had a good football brain and was a good reader of a game and also played a big part in the 1992 success,” said Brian McEniff.
Sean Ferriter - the man in Dublin
Like Pauric McShea, Sean Ferriter was one of the Donegal star players in the 1960s and ‘70s and was also a former playing colleague of Brian McEniff’s.
“Sean only really came on board in 1992 and was our man in Dublin. He had a good knowledge of Dublin football and coming up to the All-Ireland final, was sour Dublin spy,”said Brian McEniff.
“Sean was a regular at Dublin training session and I received pages of reports from Sean on the Dublin training sessions and what they were up to and who was going well and who was not.
“It was priceless information and was key to our preparations for the big day.”