Edinburgh’s sole GAA club, Dunedin Connolly’s, celebrated their 25th anniversary at the city’s Roxburghe Hotel on Saturday night in front of a sizable Donegal presence.
Author Jonathan Foley launched the club’s own official history book, Dunedin Connolly’s - Comortas Cuig Bliana is Fiche: The Story So Far.
The Letterkenny native is currently joint-manager of St Eunan’s Junior B team along with Andrew McGovern and has been involved in the Dunedin Connolly’s committee since teaching in Edinburgh’s Broughton High School last year.
Its foreword was written by Donegal’s 1992 All-Ireland winning full-forward, Dungloe’s Tony Boyle, who had been the guest speaker back in 2008 when Dunedin Connolly’s were celebrating their 20th anniversary.
The club were founded in 1988 by Belfast-born Anthony Haughey. They have now established both men’s and ladies football in the city as well as a blossoming underage development programme currently led by former Waterford player, Niall Considine.
Dunedin Connolly’s have gone on to become Scotland’s most decorated club; amassing a total of nine Scottish provincial championships, seven county leagues and one British title.
“What makes this visit so special for me is that I get to be here for the 25th anniversary of Connolly’s on the year that my own Donegal are the reigning All-Ireland Champions,” said Tony McAuley, a native of Gortahork, who was part of the first every Dunedin Connolly’s team to take the field.
“I raise my glass and say Donegal Abú and Connolly’s Abú.”
Danny Bonnar, Andy and Paddy O’Donnell and Tony, Richard and Charlie McAuley made up the six Donegal men that were part of that team. There has been a constant flow of Donegal involvement since.
Current manager Cormac O’Gara is from Glencolmbkille and has previously represented Naomh Columba. He was the manager when Dunedin Connolly’s lifted the All-Britain Championship in 2009 and was the driving force behind Napier University’s success in the British Universities Championship a year later.
Past players, from a Donegal perspective, include Johnny McGill from Ardara. He won the 2004 Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC and All-County League that same year.
McGill has also figured in the Boston Championship in the past, represented Donegal at underage level and currently plays Aussie Rules for Scotland. Liam McGinley from Buncrana won the Freshers’ Championship from his time with NUI Galway.
The ladies panel includes Veronica Walls from the Naomh Bríd club. She has also featured for Aodh Ruadh and represented the county’s ladies teams of the mid-1990s.
Niamh Morrisson from St Eunan’s won both the Ulster and All-Ireland Intermediate championships in 2010 as well as helping Donegal to a National League Division 2 title the same year.
Lydia Fowley from St Mary’s of Convoy joined the Edinburgh club 18 months ago. She was a part of the victorious ladies team at St Mary’s who tasted county junior success in 2010. Bridgeen McCarron played with Buncrana.
Aidy Martin from Four Masters was thanked for the great service he gave Dunedin Connolly’s in the fledgling years. Similarly, Tommy Deane from Kilcar was also spoken of in the highest regard for his endeavours during the early-to-mid 2000s. Paddy McGee from Killybegs was at the club at this time.
Dunedin Connolly’s also remains most thankful to the services of former U-21 Donegal player, Frank Gallagher from Ballyshannon.
He is hailed as the pivotal figure behind how Connolly’s acquired their current home ground which is based at Cavalry Park in the south-west of Edinburgh. Between 1988 and 1998, the club rented a primary school rugby pitch before Gallagher’s great input.
Dunedin Connolly’s very own club crest was also the creation of Ronan McGirr. A native of Lifford, McGirr and his wife Carol sketched a new design in the late 1990s. It had previously been an image of the famous patriot James Connolly, who was born in Scottish capital but now features an image of Edinburgh’s Castle and Ireland’s four provincial emblems.
A Donegal shirt, which was signed by manager Jim McGuinness, his assistant Rory Gallagher and the members of the All-Ireland winning panel, was presented to Dunedin Connolly’s club chairman, Peter Dillon from Wicklow, by Jonathan Foley.
The shirt will forever be housed in Malone’s Bar in the city.