When Meath defeated Kildare on Sunday last to reach the Leinster football championship final, their man of the match, Conor Gillespie, has strong Donegal roots.
Conor, (pictured) who plays his football with Summerhill, was a towering figure at midfield for the Royals, despite being still U-21.
His Donegal roots can be traced back to Kinnakillew, Glencolmcille, the birthplace of his grandfather, Edward ‘Ned’ Gillespie, who was a garda, and who was buried in Enfield only last December, aged 88.
Conor’s father, is Ben Gillespie. The football ‘family tree’ extends to the McGinleys of Glencolmcille and Letterkenny with present day footballers, Oisin McGinley of Naomh Columba and David and Conal McGinley of St. Eunan’s, cousins of Conor.
Sport played a big part in Ned Gillespie’s life, as outlined in his obituary in the Meath Chronicle. He had won a Donegal senior championship Dungloe before moving to Monaghan and from there to Enfield in Co. Meath, where amazingly he won a Meath senior championship medal at the age of 42 and also continued playing until he was 57.
Conor is not the only ‘Donegal’ man in the Meath team. Goalkeeper David Gallagher’s father is from Ardara.