ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL FINAL: Dublin star John Small and the Donegal connection

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL FINAL:  Dublin star John Small and the Donegal connection

John Small, Dublin

John Small, the Dublin centre half-back, is the latest of the treble chasing All-Ireland champions Dublin to emerge as having a Donegal connection.

The Ballymun Kickhams clubman is the grandson of Ballyshannon woman, Mary Cassidy, who grew and lived  the early part of her life on the banks of the Erne.

John Murphy from Donegal Town and retired Postmaster was a neighbour of Mary Cassidy in Ballyshannon and a lifelong friend.

“We were next door neighbours in Chapel Street; she is just a year  younger than me and we grew up together,” John Murphy told the Democrat.

“We have remained in touch down the years and I was only speaking to her  on the ‘phone the week before last.

“She is in good health and is very proud of her grandson, her son’s son and is looking forward to the game.”  

Mary Cassidy, now Small, was born and reared on Chapel Street in Ballyshannon. Her father, James Cassidy, was a well known businessman in the town.

He owned the Central Hotel in Bundoran, a Butcher’s Shop, a beer bottling company and a pub in Ballyshannon.

The pub was called the Green Lady, across the road from the Bus Eireann bus stop.

Mary Cassidy had one brother, Michael and two sisters Evelyn and Rosaleen, all deceased. She moved to Dublin as a young woman got married and settled down.

Her grandson John Small will wear the number six shirt for Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland final and is bidding for a third All-Ireland senior championship title in-a-row.

John Small is the third member of the Dublin squad who have strong family ties with Donegal.

Michael Darragh Macauley and Eoghan O’Gara are the others.

Michael Darragh’s late father Dr Michael Macauley was a native of Lettermacaward in the Rosses, West Donegal.  

And Eoghan O’Gara’s mother, Ann Brennan, is from Donegal Town and his father has family ties in the Glencolmcille area.

Midfielder Tom Parsons is the only Mayo player with a connection with Donegal. Parsons’ mother Carmel Barry is originally from Bundoran and his uncle Peter Barry is a former Bundoran and St Joseph’s player and holds the distinction of playing minor and senior championship for Donegal in the same year.