THIS AFTERNOON JUST off the Shore Road in Newtownabbey, four Donegal men are part of the Dublin City University panel aiming to win a fifth Sigerson Cup.
Yesterday, DCU kicked University of Ulster Jordanstown out of their own party. With Martin McHugh as part of the management team and Ryan McHugh and Patrick McBrearty involved, UUJ lost 1-14 to 0-13 on home turf.
For their part, DCU contained Glenswilly goalkeeper Philip O’Donnell from the off and he was joined by Caolan McGonagle of Buncrana in the closing stages. Nathan Gavigan of Sean MacCumhaill’s and Cian Mulligan from Gaoth Dobhair are also part of the DCU panel, with University College Dublin today’s opponents.
Also yesterday, a heavy defeat for Letterkenny IT means their Trench Cup dream died at the semi-final stage at Waterford IT’s hands.
Therefore, Conor Doherty from Kilcar is the only Donegal man in with a chance of winning that competition this year as he represents Dundalk IT.
Donegal has always had something of an affinity with the third level competitions, but never more so than in 2005 when there were nine men from the county involved with IT Sligo as they won a third Sigerson Cup crown in four years.
It was almost a ‘Donegal Saturday’ as Letterkenny IT won the Trench Cup for the first and only time in their history.
Photo caption: The IT Sligo team, who were captained by Donegal’s Christy Toye, celebrate their victory in the 2005 Sigerson Cup final over Queens’ University Belfast at Dundalk IT
IT Sligo’s run of success in the Sigerson competition started in 2002 – with a 0-6 to 0-5 win over University College Cork – under the management of Martin McHugh and with a team that included current Donegal manager Rory Gallagher.
Two years later, at Corrigan Park in Belfast, IT Sligo overcame Queen’s University Belfast, 1-10 to 1-7.
The 2005 final would be between the same two teams and as The Sunday Independent put it: “Revenge is supposed to be a dish best served cold. Well, James McCartan and Queen’s got the Arctic temperatures in Dundalk yesterday, but they couldn’t get revenge for last year’s final defeat.”
It was a cold afternoon and both sides froze one another out with the scoreline tied at 0-6 to 0-6 at full-time.
As well as being a cousin of 2001 world rowing champion Sinead Jennings and her sister Caitriona who ran in the marathon at London 2012, Kieran Gallagher, the IT Sligo manager from Swinford, Co Mayo – whose mother was from Clonmany – had a huge Donegal influence.
St Michael’s Christy Toye was the IT Sligo captain, while Four Masters had Paul Durcan, Karl Lacey, Michael Doherty, Martin Cassidy and Aaron Charles. Eamon McGee from Gaoth Dobhair was joined by Donnacha Gallagher of Carndonagh – currently St Eunan’s – and Robert Emmets’ Dominic McGlinchey.
Lacey would miss the decider with a back injury as the starting roles would go to Durcan, McGee, Doherty and Toye. Gallagher would come on in normal time and McGlinchey in extra-time.
Still being in the final after an hour was just rewards for IT Sligo, who had to forage on for 42 minutes with 14 men after Jamie Murphy from Galway was dismissed in the first half for a stray punch.
Then, with 10 minutes left, Durcan saved a penalty from Andy Mallon of Armagh. It was the Four Masters’ netminder’s second such stop in two days having also denied Conor McCarthy of University of Ulster Cork in the semi-final the previous day.
Goals from Doherty and Toye sealed a 2-12 to 0-11 win over UCC in that last four tie – one in which Eamon McGee picked up some mild concussion but would still play the final – and that night at the Nuremore Hotel in Carrickmacross, some of the IT Sligo dabbled with some bleach for a more peroxide look for their hair for the final.
It worked to varying degrees of success but entering extra-time against Queen’s and up to the full compliment of 15 players with Sligo forward Alan Costello introduced, they managed to get away.
Toye gave a captain’s performance and Mayo duo Keith Higgins and Andy Moran were also impressive.
Doherty grabbed his third point of the day in extra-time and Eoin Gallagher put the westerners two in front. Right at the end – the bitter end – Donnacha Gallagher made the score 0-10 to 0-7 for IT Sligo.
“Paul Durcan played a massive role for us all season and I expect him to go onto great things with Donegal,” manager Gallagher said afterwards. “Christy Toye was simply outstanding. His final performance was his best in a Sligo jersey. He has led by example all year.”
Earlier in the day, Letterkenny IT overcame St Patrick’s College Drumcondra in the Trench Cup final on a 2-10 to 0-9 scoreline, with Colm McFadden and Seamus Friel scoring the goals for the side managed by Paul Callaghan from Burt.
A man who kicked two points for the teaching college that day, David Herity, would go on to win two Liam McCarthy Cups as goalkeeper of Kilkenny hurlers – in 2011 and 2012 – as well as picking up three more winners’ medals as substitute netminder.
Rory Kavanagh, the St Eunan’s and Donegal midfielder, was sent off for St Patrick’s College on 40 minutes in controversial circumstances after swinging a stray arm at LyIT captain Neil Gallagher – the man who he would partner at midfield seven years later to win the All-Ireland title for Donegal.
“It was a very tough game and the sending off was crucial,” said Gallagher, who was named man of the match.
Donegal’s current goalkeeping coach James Gallagher was between the sticks that day. Neil McGee, full-back, and corner forward McFadden would also form part of the 2012 Donegal team that took Sam Maguire back to the Hills.
The LyIT team that day was: James Gallagher (Cloughaneely); Eddie Brennan (St Eunan’s), Neil McGee (Gaoth Dobhair), Brendan Rodden (St Michael’s); Niall McClafferty (St Eunan’s), Kevin Cassidy (Gaoth Dobhair), Christopher Cannon (Gaoth Dobhair); Barry Molloy (Glenswilly), Neil Gallagher (Glenswilly); Barry Dunnion (Four Masters), Colm McFadden (St Michael’s), Fergal McNulty (Urney, Co Tyrone); Barry Doherty (Kilcar), Seamus Friel (Gaeil Fhánada), Damian Diver (Naomh Padraig, Muff). Sub used: Danny Langan (St Michael’s)