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27 Nov 2021

Martin Griffin brings a crowd to its feet one last time

Martin Griffin brings a crowd to its feet one last time

Former teammates carry the coffin of Martin Griffin. Photo: Thomas Gallagher

Even at his funeral, Martin Griffin’s imposing presence could be felt.

The Donegal football legend was laid to rest on Wednesday after his sudden death at the weekend.

He played 109 times for Donegal and won Ulster championships with Donegal in 1974, 1983 and 1990.

Many former team-mates gathered for his funeral at the Church of Mary Immaculate, Stranorlar.

Fr Kieran McAteer told mourners how Griffin was an iconic figure.

“I reflected on how he graced the pitch around the county and the country - he gave so many wonderful moments to MacCumhaills and Donegal supporters that have made him the legend that he is,” Fr McAteer.

“He would bring the crowd to their feet, catching the ball out of the sky, coming out carrying man, ball and all.”

Donegal manager Declan Bonner, who played alongside Griffin for Donegal, was among the mourners.

Fr McAteer said: “I could lipread that he was praying intensely and his prayer was: ‘Lord please let me unearth another Martin Griffin.’

“Martin touched something in all of us and it wasn’t just on his good days. Away from the roar of the crowd, he was a good natured, simple soul. The stories are endless and more often than not bring a smile and a laugh.” 

A former employee with Donegal County Council, Griffin's passing has brought widespread sadness from those who knew him and those who saw him dominate the skies of Ulster football.

Brian McEniff brought Griffin into the Donegal minor squad in 1972 and the Bundoran man the full-back in high esteem.

McEniff said: “He was a better footballer than he gave himself credit for. He had a great pair of hands on him. He had a great capacity to play and had great ability.”

Griffin was a senior championship winner with Sean MacCumhaills in 1977. Club members and former team-mates formed a guard of honour at Wednesday’s funeral.

Late of Silverwood, Donegal Road, Ballybofey, Martin Griffin was aged 67 when he died on Saturday.

He is survived by his wife Margaret, mother Mai, children Ann Marie (Colin) and Donna (Barry), grandchildren Loic, Noah, Madison, Jaylyn and Brooke, siblings Larry, Christina, Kenny, Mary, Seamus, Ann, Gerard, Tony, and Sharon.

He was predeceased by his father Gerry and his brother Noel.

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