MAC'S VIEW: The best 15 Donegal players I have lined out against over the years

Brian McEniff delves into the past

Mac's View

The Donegal team that won Ulster in '72. The team included Brian himself and some of those who he names as the best Donegal players he has played against

This week I was tasked to name the best 15 Donegal players I had played against and it is not an easy task.
While giving the matter some thought on Sunday afternoon, I was also watching the Tyrone-Kerry All-Ireland final of 2005 being re-run on TG4.
It's funny what goes through your head on those occasions, but my mind went back to 12 months earlier in 2004 when we beat the same Tyrone team with 14 men in the Ulster championship semi-final.
They had hammered us by 20 points in MaCumhaill Park in the Dr McKenna Cup final in the spring with the late Cormac McAnallen as captain. That would have been Cormac's last game as just over a week later his death shocked the country.
Tyrone had the Indian sign over Kerry at that time but we overcame them despite having Niall McCready sent off. Then a year later Tyrone are All-Ireland champions for the second time.
Anyway back to the task in hand this week, picking the best 15 Donegal players that I have played against, and in truth I could pick three or four teams. I probably played for far too long and could really pick a team from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Indeed, I played against many of the team that eventually went on to win the All-Ireland final in 1992.

Mickey McLoone


But with apologies to many great players, here is my selection.
In goals I have to go with Seamus Hoare of St Eunan's, who was an ever present for Donegal in the 1960s when I came into the team and he also played with distinction for Ulster.
The full-back line I have chosen is John Hannigan of St Eunan's; Pauric McShea of Ballyshannon and Donal Monaghan of Four Masters. You would go a long way to get a better last line.

Sean O'Donnell

I didn't consider Paul Kelly because I never really played against him. We did play Cloughaneely at junior level when I was still in boarding school but I wasn't allowed out to play.
In the half-back line I have chosen the stylish Sean O'Donnell of Dungloe; PJ Flood of Pettigo and Clanna Gael and Andy Curran of Castlefin and MacCumhaills.

Amalgamations
Back in my time there were amalgamations all over the county with St Joseph's bringing Ballyshannon and Bundoran together. I have three Ballyshannon players on my team selection as we would have met at junior level and there was a healthy local rivalry.
I would have played against PJ Flood when he was playing with Clanna Gael but initially Flood would have played with St Joseph's. But then Clanna Gael was formed to include Pettigo, Ballintra, Four Masters and St Nauls.
Amalgamations were very common. Kilcar and Glen would have played together, while I remember playing a minor semi-final in 1958 against a Killybegs-Ardara selection.

Neilly Gallagher


You had Rosses Rovers - a combination of Na Rossa, Dungloe and Naomh Muire; you had Roger Casements, a combination of Milford, Fanad and Downings; St Eunan's would have covered Letterkenny and its environs from Termon to Glenswilly and out towards Brendan Devenney country; MacCumhaills took in most of the Finn Valley, from Glenfin to Castlefin and there were amalgamations representing Inishowen also at various times.
Andy Curran was a very solid player who started off in Castlefin but then joined MacCumhaills, while Sean O'Donnell was a player who could play in defence or attack.
At midfield I'm selecting Sean Ferriter and Frankie McFeely. Ferriter would have started off with St Michaels and when I was playing against him he would have been in Dungloe and after that he joined St Eunan's. McFeely was a very, very good club player with MacCumhaills.
My half-forward line is Mickey McLoone, Ballyshannon; Hughie McClafferty, Downings and Neilly Gallagher of Gaoth Dobhair, while at full-forward I go for Martin Carney, Seamus Bonar and Joe Winston.
I could have picked another team that would be equally as good with the likes of Noel McCole, Finian Ward, Martin Griffin, Brendan Dunleavy, Michael Lafferty, Michael Carr, Anthony Gallagher and Anton Carroll in defence; the likes of Paul McGettigan at midfield while up front you could call on Michael McMenamin, Gerald McElwee, Hughie Travers, Frankie Campbell or Kieran Keeney.
So the final selection of my best 15 Donegal players that I played against is:
Seamus Hoare; John Hannigan, Pauric McShea, Donal Monaghan; Sean O'Donnell, PJ Flood, Andy Curran; Sean Ferriter, Frankie McFeely; Mickey McLoone, Hughie McClafferty, Neilly Gallagher; Martin Carney, Seamus Bonar and Joe Winston.

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