WHEN WARREN HARVEY shrilled his final whistle on Sunday in Clonmany, it was the sound of sweet success for Glengad United.
They’d gone to Shamrock Park, the home of their rivals, Clonmany Shamrocks, and won the title.
The Jackie Crossan Premier Division title was back at The Crua.
As John Gerard McLaughlin hoisted the crystal vase aloft with one hand and triumphantly exclaimed ‘we’re the champions, boys’, those huddled around him released a powerful roar.
Among those on the green carpet of Shamrock Park – where Michael Byrne netted in a 1-0 win over Clonmany Shamrocks – was John McDaid.
Whenever and wherever Glengad United are playing, John McDaid will be among the support.
After guiding Glengad to a 10th trophy in his four seasons as the manager, Shane Byrne said the success ‘means everything’.
The sheer, raw euphoria, after a 10th piece of silverware in four seasons was quite something.[adrotate group=”38″]
It had been a testing campaign for Glengad, fighting on all fronts for silverware, and they still have two cup finals to come.
They ran into a fixture logjam last month and were forced to play four games inside a week. They won all four, as if to spite the fixture list.
Their season is littered with little moments, late equalisers and later winners that neatly tell the tale of a team that doesn’t quite know when it’s beaten.
The outpouring of emotion was about more than a football match and a League title.
That delight now is a feeling that has been resting within them since the club’s darkest hours, desperate to be awoken again.
On September 20th 1987, four members of a local fishing crew perished when their boat, the Boy Shaun, sank off the Garvan Isles.
The skipper of the vessel, a 36-foot half-decker, was Barney ‘Cooper’ McDaid, a founder member of Glengad United FC in 1976.
McDaid, his sons Patrick and Charles, and their cousin David, all died in the tragedy.[adrotate group=”43″]
They’d gone out at 5am with the intention of returning home to Bunn in Glengad to watch the All-Ireland football final between Meath and Cork that afternoon.
They never came back.
Only one person, a fifth member of the crew, survived the tragedy.
John McDaid was found was found by Billy Farren, the skipper of the nearby Carraig Eamonn, clinging to a six-foot long piece of wood, some part of the sunken boat.
Farren had been in constant contact with Barney McDaid all throughout that fateful morning, as they were anytime they were at sea.
Farren put a call into the Boy Shaun around 12.30pm. There was no response. As he gazed around Lough Foyle, there was nothing in sight. On emergency channel 16, he put a Mayday call through.
Around 50 local boats and rescue crews joined in the search.
How The Irish Press of September 21 1987 reported on the tragedy.
The bodies of Patrick and David McDaid were found.
It was a month later, on October 20, when Charles McDaid’s body was found off the Isle of Barra in Scotland and it wasn’t until early that December when the body of 63-year-old Barney ‘Cooper’ McDaid was found washed up on a beach on the Isle of Lewis, also in Scotland.
They’ve never been able to fully establish the chain of events that led to the Boy Shaun plunging 180 feet blow the surface.
Glengad United ceased to exist. Without their founder member, who’d been one of those Jack Of All Trades, filling roles from administrator, to manager, to whatever it was needed done, they were nothing.[adrotate group=”46″]
They reorganised in 1990 under the charge of Paddy Den McLaughlin.
They won the First Division and the Fr O’Gara Cup, titles they’d won in 1983 during McDaid’s watch.
They were up and down a couple of times since, their most recent promotion coming in the 2008/09 season – when they moved into their new home at The Crua – and their first senior title arrived in the form of the Credit Union Cup in 2011.
Shane Byrne’s first season at the helm was in 2012/13.
In December of that campaign, Glengad defeated Clonmany Shamrocks 1-0 in the Westend League Cup final with Patrick McDermott the goal-scorer.
‘This one’s for you, Anthony’ read the scrawl on the t-shirts worn by Glengad’s players.
A year earlier, on Christmas Day 2011, Philip Anthony Toland, a fisherman, drowned in Scotland, his body recovered from Ullapool Harbour the following day.
He was a former club captain and had played his last match against Greencastle United just a few weeks before his death.
In capturing the Westend League Cup, his former team-mates were able to pay their tribute.[adrotate group=”62″]
That title was the first won by Byrne in his tenure as manager.
This Sunday, Glengad again meet Clonmany in the League Cup final with The Crua men aiming to win it for a fourth year in succession.
Glengad’s squad has answered the questions so far posed by their foes.
“The average is age of the squad is 24 or 25 so they have another seven or eight years left yet,” Shane Byrne said on Sunday.
Michael Byrne had missed last season and their maiden Premier Division title win because of a hip injury. His winner on Sunday did mean ‘everything’.
Adam Byrne was confined to a substitute’s role in Clonmany, having been kept out of the team lately, largely due to the scintillating form of Seamus ‘Paddy Mór’ Doherty, revelling in his new role and scoring some vital goals along the way.
“Seamus came in and he’s been playing out of his skin,” his manager said.
“We have a small squad so it’s great when players come in and do well like that.
“When you lose your place it’s so hard to get it back again and all the players know that. That’s how you win trophies.”[adrotate group=”37″]
At times it looked as if fatigue and fixtures might have been their downfall.
On the first week in January, having lost 1-0 to Clonmany in their last game before Christmas, Glengad trailed Aileach 3-1 at The Crua after 87 minutes.
It’s a game worth recalling after Byrne’s words on Sunday.
“That squad, it’s a never-say-die,” he said.
“If we go a goal down they will say: ‘We’ll get the next goal and win the game’ and they come up trumps.”
Against Aileach, they were two down with only three minutes left.
Patrick McDermott gave them hope when he pilled one back and, in the 93rd minute, captain John Gerard McLaughlin rose to head home one of the most important goals of the season.
After that 3-3 draw, Glengad scored 16 goals in their next three outings, hammering Buncrana Hearts 7-0, Culdaff 4-1 and Moville 5-1.
A 0-0 draw at Buncrana did threaten to burst their bubble, but a 2-1 win at Culdaff drew them level with Clonmany and set up Sunday’s decider at Shamrock Park.[adrotate group=”51″]
John McDaid beamed with pride at the end of it all, his mind surely back at a September Sunday 29 years ago when Billy Farren hauled him and his oilskin suit out of the Foyle and onto the safety of the Carraig Eamonn.
He was the sole survivor from the Boy Shaun. Almost three months later, he went to Reigmore Hospital in Inverness to identify the body of his father, who’d introduced John and the family and the entire parish in fact, to Glengad United FC.
It really did mean ‘everything’.Tags: