The feat of Mark McHugh, Kilcar, in emulating his father, Martin, by winning an All-Ireland senior football championship medal, has sparked many debates up and down the county on whether this has ever happened before in the County.
The McHughs are the only players in Donegal GAA circles to have both won All-Ireland senior football medals, but the feat was also accomplished in athletics by Bernie O’Callaghan, Killybegs, and his son Pierce.
Many fathers and sons have achieved the distinction in Gaelic Games over the years in other counties for example John Joe Sheehy was a winner with Kerry footballers in 1925 and his sons Sean Óg, Paudie and Niall also won All-Irelands in 1962.
John “Toll” Dunne captained Galway to the 1934 and 1938 titles while his son Cyril was a member of the great Galway three in a row team in 1964, 1965 and 1966.
Jim McCartan in 1960 and 1961 and his son James 1991 and 1994 with Down footballers, Bernard Brogan and his sons Bernard and Alan, with Dublin footballers,
Hurlers, Gerry Doyle and his son Jimmy with Tipperary senior hurlers;Pat Reynolds in 1967 and his son Paddy 1996, 1999 with the Meath footballers, Tim Kennelly won five All-Ireland with Kerry in 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981 and his son Noel in 2000 and Tadhg in 2009 with the Kerry footballers, Richie Power in 1982 an d 1983 and his son Richie in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 with Kilkenny senior hurlers. Des Ferguson with Dublin 1958 and 1963 and his son Terry Meath 1986 and 1987, Noel Curran with Meath 1967 and his son Paul with Dublin in 1995 were father son combinations with different counties.
Jackie Gilroy won medals with Dublin in 1958 and 1963 while his son Pat won his medal in 1995 and managed the Dublin team to the All Ireland title in 2011. Ollie Walsh won medals with Kilkenny hurlers in 1956, 1963, 1967 and 1969 while his son Michael was a winner in 1992 and 1993.
Damian Martin won All Ireland medals with the Offaly hurlers in 1981 and 1985 and his son Eunan won with Offaly in 1998, they are the only Offaly Father and son to win All-Ireland medals. Con Brosnan won medals with Kerry in 1929, 1930 1931 and 1932 while his son Jim was a winner in 1953, 1955 and 1959. Mickey “Rattler” Burns won six titles with Tipperary Hurlers in 1945, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1958 while his son Paul was winner with Tipperary in 1971.
Sean Walsh won All Ireland winners medals with Kerry in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986 while his son Tommy won his medal in 2009.
Three families have won All-Ireland medals in three generations, the Donellans of Galway Mick won a medal in 1926, his sons John and Pat won medals in 1964, 65 and 66 and John’s son Michael won medals in 1998 and 2001. Jackie Power won All Ireland Hurling medals with Limerick in 1934, 1936 and 1940, his son Ger won eight medals with Kerry in 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986 while Paddy’s grandson Stephen McNamara won an All Ireland with the Clare Senior Hurling team in 1995.
Paddy Larkin won a medal with Kilkenny hurlers in 1932, his son Fan won medals in 1964, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979, while his grandson Philip, won medals in 2000, 2002 and 2003 with Kilkenny. Paddy O’ Keefe of Cork 1893 and his son John 1919 were the first father and son to win to win All Ireland Senior medals in the history of the GAA.
Only five fathers and sons have achieved the distinction in the one hundred and forty years of Irish Athletics Championships. They are Dr Pat O’Callaghan, Duhallow, and his son Hugh who both won Irish titles in the hammer and shot. Bert Healion, Erris, and his son, Paul, who also won Irish hammer titles. Johnny O’ Leary, Clonliffe Harriers, and his son, Bobby, who both won Irish Senior 20km Race Walking titles.
Bernie O’Callaghan, Killybegs, and his son, Pierce, who both won Irish Senior 10,000m and 20Km Race Walking titles and Conor McCullagh, Drogheda and his son, Conor, who both won hammer titles.
Dr Pat O’Callaghan a native of Duhallow Co Cork was a double Olympic Champion winning the Olympic hammer title in Amsterdam in 1928 and Los Angeles in 1932. He won twenty two Irish NACA titles winning the hammer title in 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1935 the Shot Putt titles in 1930, 1932 and 1935 and the 56 lbs without follow title in 1928, 1930, 1931 and 1932, the 56 lbs over the bar in 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931 and 1932 and the High Jump titles in 1930 1931 and 1932 and the Discus title in 1930. Dr Pat won the AA Hammer title in 1932 and the US title in 1933. His son Hugh won twelve Irish titles, Shot Putt title in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 the Discus title in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 and won the Hammer title in 1963 and 1965, the Javelin title in 1965 and also won the Decathlon title.
Bert Healion, Erris won AAU hammer titles in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959. He also won the 56 lbs without follow in 1941, 1943 and 1944 and the 35 lbs in 1941, 1943 and 1944. His son Paul won the inaugural BLE Hammer title in 1967.
Johnny O’ Leary Clonliffe Harriers won the BLE 20Km title in 1974 and 1978 and the 10,000m title in 1974, while his son Bobby won the 20km title in 1991.
Conor McCullagh from Drogheda won the BLE hammer titles in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He also competed in the hammer in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984 and in Seoul in 1988, while his son also Conor won the AAI title in 2011 and 2012.
Bernie and Pierce in Santry after Pierces first BLE 10,000m title victory By a strange coincidence Bernie O’ Callaghan and Pat Reynolds were team mates, class mates and close friends in Franciscan College Gormanston, Co Meath from 1959 to 1964 and Pierce and Paddy were also team mates, class mates and close friends in Gormanston between 1990 and 1992.
While much is known of the McHughs, Pierce O’Callaghan achieved an Olympic qualifying standard for the 20km walk in 1999 but a serious injury brought his career to a premature end, but he immediately became involved in coaching and coached Jamie Costin to the 50km event in the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games and the World Championships in 2001 and 2003.
Pierce was appointed as Director of Competition by Scottish Athletics and after two years in that position was appointed Director of Communications with the European Athletics Federation. He became an International Race walking Judge in 2005 and was appointed to judge at both the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the Games in London this year. He is only the second Irish official to be appointed to an Olympic Games since 1932. He topped the poll and was elected to the European Athletics Competition Committee at the recent congress in Helsinki. A former Assistant Editor of the Irish Runner Magazine Pierce was the RTE reporter at the World Championships in Edmonton and recently commentated for Setanta TV on the Paralympic Games in London. He is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Star. He is currently working on a book called “Irish Sporting Records” which lists every Irish sporting champion in every sport from 1850 to the present day.
Together Bernie and Pierce established the Dublin Grand Prix of Race Walking built up it into one of the foremost Grand Prix events in the World routinely attracting athletes from over thirty countries. Nathan Deakes of Australia broke the World 50km record at the event in the Phoenix Park in 2004.
On a historical note Martin McHugh’s father, Jim, and Bernie’s father, Dermot, both sadly no longer with us, were members of the Killybegs team winners of the County Senior Football Championship for the first time in 1952.