Donegal Philadelphia players, back l-r, Ryan Connors, Conor McHugh, Oisin Gallen and Kealan Dunleavy and front, Danny Walsh and Patrick Gallagher, Jamie Grant and Peadar Mogan
There will be a watchful eye from near and far on the finals day in Limerick, Pennsylvania, this Sunday where Donegal Philadelphia take on Young Irelands for the title with the winners obtaining a place in the North American finals later this month.
Donegal Philadelphia has a host of Donegal players involved, including Oisin Gallen from MacCumhaill’s, St Naul’s Peadar Mogan, Kealan Dunleavy of Glenswilly, Jamie Grant, who plays for Termon, Ardara duo Paddy Gallagher and Danny Walsh, as well as Ryan Connors of Dungloe and Milford’s Conor McHugh.
The bulk of the Irish community are living between Havertown or Delaware County, on the outskirts of Philadelphia and the players that made their way from Donegal are fitting right in.
Last Sunday in Letterkenny, MacCumhaill’s confirmed their place in Division 1 of the All-County Football League for 2023 following a 2-16 to 0-10 win over Milford and Gallen was following updates as they happened.
“It’s tough following the twitter updates on MacCumhaill’s every weekend wishing you were home but sure that’s all part of it I suppose,” he told DonegalLive.
Dunleavy said it was a “no-brainer” with players like Ruairí Crawford from Glenswilly having made the trip before.
He said: “Having a few boys from the club who have been out before to Philly helped with my decision as they were saying how it was one of their best summers. Being able to get up to New York and head to Jersey shore is good. The good weather always makes things better too.”
McHugh, who is an electrician, admits the level of football is higher than he had initially thought.
“It's much better than I expected - the intensity and quality of football is next to none. We’re always on the go with the new people we’ve met from all the different countries,” he said. “It’s a different lifestyle.
Walsh is also a painter, with Bourke Painting, and spent some Sunday mornings rising early to keep up on the All-Ireland series. “I came here because of the strong Donegal connection in Havertown and the Ardara connection with the Cunninghams (Donegal Philadelphia co-founder Eamon),” Walsh said. “Havertown is great, loads of Irish people living in the area and it’s not too far away from the city, lots to do and I find the football very enjoyable, loads of space with 13-a-side, playing in the heat can be rough but we’ll get over that!
His Ardara teammate Gallagher - a goalkeeper - was aware of the Irish community in Philadelphia: “Having everything on your doorstep is great and the Irish community all look after each other here so it’s just like home. There’s a good Irish community in Philly and I heard good things about it.”
Bobby McGettigan from Termon, Rory Callaghan of Glenswilly, as well as Convoy duo Joe McGill and Barney McNamee were playing juniors this summer.
Off the pitch, the Donegal involvement is throughout the club at all levels. Louie Bradley from Letterkenny was there since its inception in 1988 and has fulfilled a number of roles at the club down the years and is this weekend on the line for Delco Gaels in the Junior B Championship in the curtain-raiser.
Glenswilly Patsy Duddy is Honorary Chairman, with Pat Bourke from St Naul’s - and a season with Naomh Bríd/Pettigo - the chairman and his son Gerald is the registrar.
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