With a cup borrowed from the owner of a prize-winning bull, the first St Michael’s team’s successful homecoming in 1954 was recalled at the club's dinner dance.
The occasion was remembered by founding member, Mick ‘Hudie’ McGinley, as he entered the club's Hall of Fame at a function on Saturday night in Arnold's Hotel.
Mick was one of the founding fathers of St Michael’s GAA club back in 1952 who helped pave the way for thousands of young players to enjoy the game to date.
At Saturday’s dinner dance he was inducted into the St Michael’s Hall of Fame and in return he presented the club with a medal, the first he won for the club, when they claimed the 1954 junior league title. It was a gesture that received a well deserved standing ovation.
He had the medal encased in a presentation frame detailing that it was won for their victory over Bundoran on April 25, 1954.
Speaking at the event, Mick, who was accompanied by his wife Moyra and daughter Edel, said it was hard to believe the club has grown so much since the time they gathered to found it.
“I don’t have to outline to you the strength of this club over the years. When we sat down in 1952, I never realised the club would reach such heights,” he told the audience.
“This club has supplied players to the county, the province, to Sigerson Cup winning teams and have won every competition in the county except the big one, but that day will come”.
Mick, a retired garda Sergeant, moved from Donegal to follow his law enforcement career path in 1955 but he never lost touch with St Michael’s and says he knows the current crop of players have the ability to claim a senior championship title.
“I would like to congratulate the players that won this year’s league cup. It is a great achievement to win a senior cup with any club. The day will come when you will win a senior championship title. That day is not too far away.”
He said it was a great source of pride to see six St Michael’s players walking down Creeslough and Dunfanaghy’s main streets with the Sam Maguire in 2012.
“That is a great achievement for a wee club,” he stated.
He went on to describe the efforts they went to to make sure it was a memorable homecoming for the first honours the club won over 60 years ago.
He outlined: “It was in the Creeslough Hall where we were presented with medals for winning the 1954 Junior league. We played Bundoran in Glenties and won the match by a couple of points and when the match was over there was nobody from the county board there with the cup. So there was no cup to be got and everybody started looking for one. We had one chap who was on the team, Billy Maxwell; he was working in Downings and he was a native of Ardara. We went into a hotel after the match and had a cup of tea and he decided that he had a friend in Ardara that won a cup in the Ardara show for a prize bull, and he would go and get the cup. So we all waited in Glenties; he and his friend went to Ardara and came back with the cup and it was taken back to Creeslough, Downings and Carrigart and that was the cup we won in 1954. Needless to say when we got presented with the medals at the Creeslough Hall later we had no cup because it had to go back to the owner,” he explained to much laughter.
He then presented the medal won on that occasion back to the club to go on display at the clubhouse.
After the speeches Mick enjoyed catching up with all his friends and he recalled the early days of the club during which he fondly recalled his teammates from the 1954 final.
“Seamus Kelly from Creeslough was in goal. I was right full-back. Leo Brady, a Cavan man but we worked in Carrigart, was full-back next to Gus Gibbons from Creeslough. Half-back, Edmund Kelly, was born in Creeslough and his mother was the District Nurse who moved to Carrigart. Centre-half and the captain of the team was Brendan Ward, Creeslough, who played for Donegal for years. Left half-back was Tony Kelly of Falcarragh. Centre-field was Billy Maxwell from Ardara, who was a weaver in McNutt’s of Downings, alongside Liam Kelly of Carrigart, who was a brother of Edmund’s. The half-forward line was Anton McGettigan, from Downings, John McBride, Downings and Peter Shovlin. The front line was all Creeslough including Tony Langan, Josie Gallagher and Michael McCafferty. We had three subs including Hugo Langan, Joe Quinn and Brendan Toland.”
He outlined that the early years were a far cry to the fine facilities the club enjoys at the Bridge in Dunfanaghy today.
“We went into Maggie Connaghan’s field in Creeslough on the April 10, 1954 and the price we paid was £9.50 for the year. We gave her a £1 deposit and permission to graze her cattle on the field. The changing room was the byre or along the hedge!”