Waking up yesterday morning to the news of the sudden passing of Club and town legend Rory Dunlevy will stay with us forever.
From the age of four Rory was soccer mad. He organised games against our big rivals in St. Joseph’s Avenue - played in the Mart field or when we sneaked down the line to play them ‘away’ (without our parents knowing). To this day both teams are still claiming bragging rights and Rory was at the heart of this.
South Donegal Schoolboys was set up in 1988 when Rory was 15. It was soon discovered he was too good for it and was drafted straight into the Senior team. He bossed midfield for many years with his long ponytail making him very recognisable.
Rory left Ireland for some years and when he got back he got involved in coaching and management which he was doing right up until his untimely passing. Rory brought so many young lads through and gave them their first chance to play senior football. He coached and managed without ever raising his voice to a player, referee or opposing manager. Likewise Rory never sought credit for anything. After a victory he would quietly take a back seat and let the lads enjoy themselves - all of this is a testament to his character.
His proudest moments as a manager came in 2013 by winning Division 1 and again in 2018 by securing the Saturday Cup...with a little help from his lifelong friend Marty Kelly. The only time himself and Marty had a disagreement was last year when they landed in Arranmore without the gear!
Rory was known to pull a great pint as well and ran a tight shop wherever he worked - the Castle Bar, McCafferty's and most recently his sister’s restaurant, Marina's Cafe and Wine Bar in the town. Being very knowledgeable about sport - any sport - or topic made him your perfect host.
Most recently Rory was preparing for the upcoming season. This included sending text messages to the lads with his uplifting and distinctive sign off: “Let’s go baby!”
The club has lost not only a dedicated and inspiring coach/manager but most of all a true gentleman and friend.
As the tears begin to flow here Rory’s old saying comes back to me: “We’re all big boys now.”
Goodbye friend, sleep tight.
- Marty Byrne on behalf of Donegal Town FC