Martin Shovlin in action for Donegal
Former Donegal footballer, Martin Shovlin, is still going strong twenty five years on from winning an All-Ireland and four decades on from first togging out for his home club Naomh Ultan.
The teak tough defender, one of the legends of Donegal football, was a member of the 1992 All-Ireland winning Donegal team, the first team to bring the coveted Sam Maguire Cup back to the Hills.
Martin, who is 56, is still answering the club call 20 years on from he hung up his intercounty boots.
He was one of four players with a combined age of well over 200 years, that togged out for Naomh Ultan last weekend.
Martin played the full game for the club’s Reserve team in last weekend’s Intermediate B championship against Carndonagh.
And he was then introduced as a replacement in the second half of the Intermediate championship first round clash, also against Carndonagh, that was played immediately after the Intermediate B game.
Apart from Martin, the others who contributed to the Naomh Ultan cause were Sean Furey (49), Liam Kennedy (52), and Colm Shovlin (57).
“It was purely out of necessity that I came on on Sunday for the seniors. It was to save the club a fine,” Martin told the Democrat.
“I have been playing away off and on with the reserve team in the league and I played in the reserve championship game on Sunday.
“We are just going through a bad spell with injuries and there was up to eight first team players missing last Sunday.
“After the first game, Kevin Lyons, the senior manager, came to me and said that he had only two subs and that he needed cover in the case of a blood sub or a player picked up a black card.
“And that is what transpired. Paul Murrin got injured in the second half. There was about 15 minutes to go and I replaced him.
“We are tight for numbers at the moment. Sean Furey, who is 49, started and played the full senior game and three of the other lads who played in the reserve game are also over 50.
“There are four over 50-year-olds and a 49 year old playing regularly for the club this season.”
Martin’s brother Colm, who is year older at 57, Ronan McCallig and Liam Kennedy are the other plus 50s who are featuring regularly for the Dunkineely based club.
“The way it is with me, I only play when we don’t have the numbers and it is the same with the rest of the lads.
“It’s like this if we have the numbers I don’t play and if we haven’t I play. It is all about saving the club a €200 fine.
“The way things are at the moment I have been playing fairly regularly this season because of the spate of injuries.
“But we are also tight for numbers and the rule that doesn’t allow 17-year-olds play adult football is crippling us.
“It is a crazy rule and is really hitting small clubs. It is alright for big city clubs with big numbers but for small country clubs it is really hammering those clubs.”
While he is playing out of necessity, Martin admitted that he is still enjoying togging out and giving his all in the name of Naomh Ultan.
And despite playing the full reserve game on Sunday last and the last 15 minutes of the senior game immediately afterwards,he suffered no ill effects and reported no stiffness or soreness on Monday.
The legend lives on.