One man who will be wearing two hats over the next few weeks is Seamus Gallagher, the last man to manage a Kilcar team to Dr. Maguire success.
Seamus was in charge when Kilcar were last in a county final in 1993. They were underdogs for that game but came out on top against local rivals, Killybegs.
This year Seamus was back in management with Ardara and he has had a long association with both clubs over a long period - famously losing a county final to Kilcar while playing for Ardara in 1980, but he has tasted success with both Ardara and Kilcar on the big day in the Donegal calendar.
“I was delighted to see them back in a final. 23 years is a long time and we didn’t think back in 1993 that it would be that long again,” said Gallagher.
“I thought they would come through many times between 2000 and 2010 and last year I thought they would surely make it.
“This year they have been exceptional in the league and they play a good open brand of football. They have been well coached with, that brand of football right up from underage.
“In recent times they didn’t have big men but Ciaran McGinley and Michael Hegarty have stepped up to the plate at midfield and any team that has three McHughs, two McBreartys, the aforementioned McGinley and Hegarty, McCleans, etc., has a great start and others like Pauric Carr, Conor McShane, Stephen Shovlin have been playing well. It is a pity that Barry Shovlin will miss out with a broken bone,” said Gallagher.
“Co. finals don’t come along very often and at the end of the day Glenswilly will be no pushover. They have championship pedigree and have won a couple of finals. Let nobody write them off,” said Gallagher. “They have some exceptional good footballers also.
“But with the sheer speed that Kilcar have, they will be hard to live with.”
Ironically, Seamus and Ardara have been pitted against Kilcar in the league this weekend and the Kilcar native feels it should be deferred. “I cannot understand that both clubs don’t have this weekend off. At the end of the day we need to take a long look at club football,” said Gallagher.
Ardara host Kilcar in a vital league game with Kilcar chasing a league win, sitting on the top of Division One, while Ardara are in desperate need for points to avoid the drop to Division Two. They are the longest survivors in top flight football, having been in Division One since 1975.
Glenswilly, the other county finalists, also have an important league game, against Termon, with both teams needing the league points in the race for survival at the bottom.
“When it comes to county football, games can be called off at the click of a finger; but clubs are treated differently,” said Gallagher, who added that Ardara had issues regarding fixtures this year which he was not happy with. “Club managers should be fit to agree games (that are called off). There is no need for club secretaries and chairmen to be involved.”
But while there are issues at club level, Seamus is very happy for Kilcar and says it will be great for the parish.
“In the 1980s we were contesting finals nearly every year with great competition from teams from Ballyshannon to Glen.”
Gallagher remembers great teams from Aodh Ruadh, Four Masters, Killybegs, Ardara and Naomh Columba. “Glenties had a good team that time also. They were very good times and nothing was won easy. We were just talking about that last night,” said Gallagher.
It seems the good times are back in one of those places at least.