All-Ireland Masters Gaelic Football

Donegal captain's chance meeting with Tir Chonaill Gaels founder ahead of Donegal's trip to London

Tom Comack


Tom Comack


Donegal Masters captain David McShane with John Byrne

Donegal Masters captain David McShane with John Byrne

Donegal Masters captain David McShane received a surprise send off for  Donegal's clash with London in the All-Ireland Masters Championship, tomorrow (Saturday) in London.

David, from Kilcar, is a TV and Satellite engineer and earlier this week when out on on a routine service job he met one of the founders of Tir Chonaill Gaels club, the Donegal club in London.

The irony of the first meeting is Donegal are putting their unbeaten two game winning run in the All-Ireland Masters Championship  on the line against London, at Greenford, the home ground of Tir Chonaill Gaels.

“I got a call from the man’s niece  to call with him and to have a look at his TV, he was having a problem with it,” David told the Democrat.

“The man’s name is John Byne and I had never met him before and as I was finishing up we started to chat.

“He surprised me when he said you have a number of new lads in this year and you had a good win over Tyrone in your last game.

“I said to him you are well informed and then asked him who was telling you that? I read it in the Democrat was his response..

“It was then I noticed a plaque on the wall about the foundation of Tir Chonaill Gaels and it was then he told me he was one of the founding members of  the club and he was at the first meeting along with his brothers Michael and Charles, in the Red Lion  in Kilburn in 1962.

“He also told me his brother Michael was the first secretary of Tir Chonaill Gaels and his brother Charles was also secretary.

“He rattled off names of men I never heard of and he has a remarkable memory for a man of his age. He is a very interesting man and we chatted away for well over an hour.”

John Byrne, who is three years shy of his 100th birthday, is still hale and hearty and lives with his wife Bridget in Teelin, Carrick,

His parting words to the Donegal captain was to wish him and Tir Chonaill Gaels good luck on Saturday.  

“He is an amazing man and had a great memory for a man of his age. He is a really fascinating character and has a great story to tell.”

Donegal face London tomorrow evening throw-in 5.30.

The 20 man squad including manager Val Murray are due to fly out from Knock International Airport tomorrow at 12 noon and they are overnighting in London, returning on Sunday afternoon.

And the team captain is hoping Donegal chalk up their third straight wins to go with those against Monaghan and Tyrone.

“There are number the lads unable to make the trip. But we still have a strong squad though we don’t  know much about London other than they have given the two teams they have played a run for their money.”