The President of the GAA in 1992, Peter Quinn, was present in the Abbey Hotel on Thursday night to launch the Donegal Democrat’s book, History Makers, which marks the 25th anniversary of Donegal’s first All-Ireland success.
The Fermanagh man who handed Sam Maguire to three Ulster captains during his term of office presented the first copy of the 180-page booklet to the 1992 captain, Anthony Molloy.
The venue for the launch was fitting and there was a large crowd present to mark the occasion and honour the heroes who had made the breakthrough.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Quinn, paid tribute to a wonderful team who was part of a great Ulster breakthrough with four All-Irelands in succession.
“That enhanced status has continued to this day, with little fear of recurrence of the old inferiority feelings. Ulster now stands proud and confident in the ability of its teams to match teams from any other part of Ireland, without fear or feelings of inferiority,” said the former President.
In paying tribute to Donegal’s win, he said: “I have no doubt that your county’s win in 1992 raised the confidence of GAA county players not just in Donegal, but throughout Ulster. Crucially, it increased the sense of pride, among the entire population of Donegal - that’s what sporting success, like winning All-Irelands, does among the people of our nation and within individual winning counties. Donegal men and women walked walked taller after the 20th September, 1992, with greater pride in their county and enhanced ‘sense of place’.
“That All-Ireland was won by a great team - a team of great player, with other great players among the substitutes, who gave tremendous performances throughout that year,” said Mr. Quinn, who said the win led to the spread of Gaelic football into areas like Inishowen and he commended the work being done by the team’s sub goalkeeper, Paul Callaghan, and his fellow coaches in promoting the game in schools and clubs.
“Tonight I salute all the members of that winning team and I salute Brian McEniff and his backroom team too.
“I also want to pay a special tribute to a man who didn’t play at all that day. As we all know, games can be won and they can also be lost in the first 10 or 15 minutes, just as well as in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Martin Shovlin’s decision to rule himself out of a game, for which he had been selected, took some courage and some commitment to the cause of Donegal winning an All-Ireland. Martin was recognised, not just in Donegal, but throughout Ulster and Ireland as a player who had no fear, who never shirked a tackle and who gave everything he had in the cause of winning,” said Mr. Quinn.
“It took a great man and great courage to make that awful sacrifice - a man whose earlier performances could and probably would have earned him All-Star recognition. Tonight I salute that greatness and that honesty.”
Mr Quinn paid tribute to the county officers of the time and he commended the staff of the Donegal Democrat for producing the ‘History Makers’ book to mark the 25th anniversary. “I especially compliment the Sports Editor, Peter Campbell, for his huge input, which is clear from reading the book.”
Mr. Quinn also complimented Michael Daly, who was Sports Editor of the Donegal Democrat, in 1992. “I knew his late father, Hugh, from the time I started attending Ulster Conventions. Hugh’s commitment to the GAA, to Donegal and the Donegal Co. Board and to his county and country could never be questioned.
“They say ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ and Hugh’s family have continued that family tradition of commitment to Donegal. Michael and Tom (who could and should have become President of the GAA and did become President of the Ulster Council) and the rest of that family have done more than enough to help in the promotion of our great Association,” said Mr. Quinn.
In launching the book ‘History Makers’, Mr. Quinn said he hoped that copies of the book and the story that underpins it, will rest proudly in every home in Donegal.
“What happened in 1992 when Anthony announced that Sam was for the Hills created the platform for the subsequent success of 20 years later and between them, those two successes will act, and must be used to act, as platforms upon which to build more success,” concluded Mr. Quinn.
Among other speakers on the night were Donegal Co. Council chairman, Cllr. Gerry McMonagle; Donegal Co. Board chairman, Sean Dunnion; Donegal Democrat Sports Editor, Peter Campbell as well as Anthony Molloy and Brian McEniff.
See Monday's Donegal Democrat/Donegal People's Press for full coverage.