Breakfast, dinner and a game like no other for McNamee brothers


THE BREAKFAST table in the McNamee household in Ramelton will be an interesting place on Friday morning.

The League of Ireland Premier Division season kicks off with a bang on Friday night as newly-promoted Finn Harps host Derry City in Ballybofey.

Some 4,500 people will cram into Finn Park for the 60th north west derby and the McNamee brothers, Harps’ Tony and Derry’s Barry, will be on opposing sides.

The two were in the same room when the fixtures were confirmed in December.

“It’s strange,” says Tony, Harps’ Young Player of the Year last season.

“I’ll wake up and have breakfast and dinner with Barry on Friday and then there’s the game …

“He’ll be going out to try and win. I’ll be going out to try and win.

“It’s going to be strange seeing him on the opposite team, but it’s just part of the job.”

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They’ve crossed swords twice before.

Once was was a pre-season friendly last year between Harps and Derry that was abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch at half-time.

The memories still linger of their previous clash.

In 2007, Barry lined out for Rathmullan Celtic while Tony played for Swilly Rovers in a semi-final of the Donegal Schoolboys Under-16s Champions League.

Rathmullan advanced to the final after a two-legged joust with their neighbours.

Tony played in both games, but Barry missed out on the second leg after being injured during the first game.

“I’m sure you can guess who put in that challenge,” Barry laughs now as he prepares for the next installment.

“Harps v Derry is a big rivalry in the north-west so this will be something new for both of us.

“All the family will be shouting for him, but I’ll just have to do my best.”

The McNamee brothers joined Derry City in 2011 when they were recruited by Eddie Seydak to play in the Ulster Senior League.

An injury crisis left Declan Devine, then the Derry manager, short of numbers and drafted Barry McNamee into the first team squad in 2012 and he hasn’t looked back.

The McNamees – a third brother, Shane, is with Derry’s under-17s – are nephews of legendary Harps striker Con McLaughlin. The first Donegal man to net 100 League of Ireland goals, McLaughlin says: “I like to see them both doing well and progressing.”

In 2014, Tony McNamee was one of the young players to profit with inclusion under the ill-fated reign of Roddy Collins.

The departure of the Dubliner from the manager’s hot seat meant the end for the younger McNamee, who was out of favour with Peter Hutton.

“I played three or four games in the Premier Division at Derry and I was happy with how I played in the games,” Tony says.

“I did reasonably well. I was disappointed when I didn’t play more when Roddy left. While things didn’t go that well for me at Derry, I did get experience and it helped my game.”

They won’t be the first set of brothers to face each other on north-west derby day. Jim and Paddy Sheridan faced off, as did Charlie and Liam McDermott.

The two McNamees are likely starters on Friday night.

Tony says: “We were always on the same team. When we were on the same pitch, we’d always have been looking to find each other because we knew each other’s game so well.”


Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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