There were emotional scenes in Downings in the early hours of Tuesday morning following the arrival home of the newly crowned All-Ireland Junior Comórtas Peilel Na Gaeltacht champions
Na Dúnaibh defeated Renvyle from Galway, hours earlier on Monday afternoon in the All-Ireland Junior final down in Ballyvourney in Cork.
Na Dúnaibh, last year’s beaten finalists, won the final 2-9 to 0-12 for their first junior final win in 34 years. Downings won junior All-Irelands back to back in 1981 and 1982 and that team went on to win their one and only senior Gaeltacht crown the following year, in 1983.
In Monday’s final, Lorcan Connor and Gary McCafferty scored the goals. County panellist Conor stabbed home a Sean McBride cross just before half-time. And McClafferty struck the second ten minutes into the second half after Colin Gallagher’s initial shot was parried by the Renvyle keeper.
Connor, in a man of the match performance, ended the game with 1-4, McClafferty posted 1-1 while Colin Gallagher 0-3 and Allen Pasoma 0-1 were the other Downings marksmen as the Donegal champions ran out worthy winners.
“It has been a long wait and it is brilliant to have finally won the All-Ireland again. It is 34 years since we won the last one,” team manager Andy Connor told the Democrat.
“The win means a lot to the club and I think that was shown on Monday night when we got home. There was a huge crowd out to meet us in Downings when we got back.
“It was near one o’clock in the morning and it was like the middle of the day. The place was buzzing and there were a lot of tears shed and the emotion shown was unbelievable and I have to admit it took me and the players by surprise.
“But that is what winning the All Ireland meant to the people of Downings. Hopefully we can build on the success now.
“The last time the club won the junior it was back to back titles and the following year the team went on to win the senior All Ireland and played in the Donegal senior championship.
“We are having a good run in the Division Three league and hopefully we can keep it going and hopefully we can also have a good run in the Intermediate championship.“
The manager also paid tribute to his team who had put in a huge effort over the weekend over the four games on their way to the winning the All-Ireland.
“The lads were brilliant. Lorcan and Gary scored the goals in the final and Lorcan had a brilliant tournament and scored 4-10 over the four games.
“But we had good performances right through the team and in different games. The lads are giving a huge commitment. Shay Coyle is working in London and David Hay is working in Brighton but they come home for all games which is a huge commitment on their behalf.”
The road to All Ireland glory began on Saturday morning. Lorcan Connor scored 2-3 and Seamus McBride 1-0 in their 3-12 to 2-5 first round victory over Mayo champions Kilcommin
And Lee McBride 1-1, Colin Gallagher 1-1, Oisin Boyce 1-0, Lorcan Connor 0-3, Gerard McCafferty, Ben McBride, Donald McBride 0-2 each, Shay Coyle and Allen Pasuma 0-1 each were their scorers in their runaway 3-13 to 0-5 quarter final victory over Cill Na Martra, Cork, on Saturday evening.
In Sunday’s semi-final, Lorcan Connor and Colin Gallagher scored the goals and Gary Bán McClafferty hit seven for the Donegal champions, who came from three points down at half-time against Lispole (Kerry), 1-9 to 1-6.
But the Donegal champions were the better side in the second period and outscored the Kerry champions 1-6 to 1-1.
Connor scored the first half goal and Gallagher struck for his in the second half to clinch the place in the final.
Downings lost the final last year to the Aran Islands in November’s delayed All-Ireland final in Ardara.
Downings final team and scorers: Patrick McGroddy; Max Davis, David Hay, Allen Pasoma (0.1); Danny McBride, Brian McGinley, Kevin Doherty; Shay Coyle. Sean McBride; Oisin Boyce. James Lee McBride, Finnian McClafferty; Lorcan Connor (1-4), Colin Gallagher, (0-3) Gary Mc Clafferty (1-1). Subs used: Ben McBride. Shane Boyce. Barry Treaty. Shane McClafferty. Marty McLaughlin. Seamus Gallagher.
Remainder of panel; Ben McNutt, Shaun McGinley. Naoise Cullen. Dale McFadden. John Mc Groddy. Conor McBride.