Donegal’s team of outsiders

Donegal is renowned as a county of the welcomes. And nothing has epitomised that down the years more than the GAA in the county.

Donegal is renowned as a county of the welcomes. And nothing has epitomised that down the years more than the GAA in the county.

Donegal has always - and still does - greet blow-ins, non-natives and outsiders, label them what you will, with open arms down the years.

Many outsiders down the years have represented Donegal on the playing fields of Ulster and beyond. However this would appear to be a phenomenon of a by-gone era rather than of the present day.

Nowadays, the contribution is more at a local level working and promoting the games in the clubs while a number from outside have graduated on to advising coaching and working with county teams.

Jim McGuinness’s number two, Rory Gallagher, is from Fermanagh, while this year’s Donegal minor football manager Stephen Friel, is from Derry and one of his mentors, Oliver Prunty, hails from Cavan.

Current stars Karl Lacey and Michael Murphy are only a generation away, their fathers being Laois and Mayo men respectively.

But while that may be the case, we have to go back to the early 1990s and Padraig Brogan, from Mayo, for the last outsider to pull on a Donegal jersey in championship football.

In the 1980s, Des Newton, from Roscommon - current Roscommon senior manager - and Galway man Frank Rushe, donned the green and gold. They were both members of the 1983, Ulster championship winning side. Des and Frank had already won All-Ireland U-21 championships with their home counties by the time they changed their allegiance to their adopted county.

Damien Judge, also from Galway, was the only non native to play for the county in the 1970s. Damien, who played his club football St. Eunan’s, was a member of the 1974 Ulster winning squad.

The 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s and the earlier years seemed to be the golden era for outsiders playing for Donegal.

A trawl through the records and Fr. Sean Gallagher’s book of Donegal GAA facts - the bible for all Donegal GAA enthusiasts - threw up a number of legends of the game and household names nationally. Among them Paddy Prendergast and John Forde from Mayo, double All-Ireland medal winners with their native county.

Sean Meade, another big name from the 1960s and a member of the famed Galway three in-a-row All-Ireland winning team, also played for Donegal; as did Tom Prendergast, an All-Ireland winner with his native Kerry. And then there was a host of leading Railway Cup players and indeed a number of Railway Cup medal winners.

Men such as Frank White of Sligo, who played inter-provincial football with both Ulster and Connacht and Sean O’Reilly, a winner of two Railway Cup medals with Connacht.

Pat English - grandfather of current athletic sensation Mark English - played with his native Roscommon and Connacht as well as helping Donegal to a first Lagan Cup success in 1952.

All-Ireland U-21 winner with Roscommon Ray Sheerin, and the late Seamus O’Reilly, from Bundoran an All-Ireland minor winner with Mayo, also switched allegiance to Donegal, when they came to live and work in the county.

And there were others too from that golden era of the 1950s and ‘60. Sean McCormack, a native of Tubbercurry and now living in Milford; Hugh McGovern (Cavan), Des Houlihan and Dom Murray (both Laois); Christy Murphy (Sligo), Tom Wickham (Sligo), Sean McGettrick (Longford), Terry Keoghan (Cavan), Joe Wilson (Galway), Dermot Moriarty (Mayo), T. Kennealy (Kerry), Austin Briody (Cavan), Barney Winston (Roscommon) and father of Donegal star forward of the late 1960s and 70s, Joe, all had distinguished and careers of varying lengths in the Donegal jersey.

It would appear, going through Fr. Sean’s Book of Facts, that outsiders featured prominently in Donegal teams of the 1920s, 30s and 40s with many names strange to Donegal teamsheets.

Names such as Manus Flaherty, Guard McMahon, J. Canavan, Jim Carney, Guard Ahearne, Inspector Haydon, R. Carthy, J. Kerrigan, J.J. Cusack, P. Dempsey are just a sample of those names that featured regularly in the green and gold.

With the assistance of Fr. Sean Gallagher’s Book of Facts and speaking to a number of knowledgable GAA men around the county I have selected a Donegal team of outsiders. The team is made up of four senior All-Ireland winners - John Forde, Tom Prendergast, Sean Meade and Paddy Prendergast, two All-Ireland U-21 winners - Des Newton and Frank Rushe and one All-Ireland minor winner Seamus O’Reilly.

The first 15 also includes a number of Railway Cup medal winners while the competition was so keen for places in the team that a number of Railway Cup winners - Sean O’Reilly and Dermot Moriarty, both Mayo- have to be happy with a place on the subs bench.

With the exception of goal-keeper J. Morrow, who a member of the Irish army based in Finner, and who well known authority, John Murphy, assures me, was from outside, we have been able to link all the players to their native county.

J. Morrow

(Army - Finner - 1941)

John Forde Pat English Des Newton

(Mayo -Army - 1944) (Roscommon -St. Eunan’s - 1951) (Roscommon - Carn - 1983-87)

Tom Prendergast Sean Meade Paddy Prendergast

(Kerry - MacCumhaills - 1964) (Galway - Ballysannon -1969) (Mayo - Dungloe - 1946)

Frank White Hugh McGovern

(Sligo - Dungloe -1945-47, 57) (Cavan - St.Eunan’s -1944-45)

Des Houlihan Frank Rushe Sean McCormack

(Laois - Killybegs -1963, 65-67 ) (Galway - St. Eunan’s - 1979,83) (Sligo - Ballyshannon -1955-57, 60)

Seamus O’Reilly Padraig Brogan Jim Brennan

(Mayo - Bundoran - 1979-81) (Mayo - Bundoran - 1991) (Mayo - Dungloe - 1979- 80)

Subs: Ray Sheerin (Roscommon), Sean O’Reilly (Mayo), Dom Murray (Laois), Barney Winston (Roscommon), Christy Murphy (Sligo), Tom Wickham (Sligo), Sean McGettrick (Longford), Damien Judge (Galway), Terry Keoghan (Cavan), Joe Wilson (Galway), Dermot Moriarty (Mayo). Ted Kennealy (Kerry).