All-Ireland football semi-finals - the Donegal connections

There could be Dublin, Mayo, Tipp and Cavan flags flying in parts of Donegal this weekend

All Ireland semi finals

Eoghan McLaughlin of Mayo whose father is from Moville Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Donegal’s race may be run but there is still a good Donegal interest and plenty of local connections with this weekend’s All-Ireland football championship semi-finals.
Dublin meet Ulster winners Cavan in Croke Park on Saturday evening (5.30pm). Then on Sunday, Tipperary, the surprise winners in Munster, meet Mayo at GAA headquarters (3.30pm). Both games will no doubt draw a big TV audience - and there will be a strong Donegal link to both semi-finals.
Five-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin have a number of players with strong Donegal family connections.
Manager, Dessie Farrell, emerging young defender Robbie McDaid, and the Small brothers, John and Paddy, have all strong family ties with Donegal. Indeed there could be Dublin flags flying in Glencolmcille, Buncrana and Ballyshannon this weekend.

Dessie Farrell 

Dublin manager Farrell has taken on the baton in the capital following the departure of five-time All-Ireland winning manager Jim Gavin.
The Dublin manager’s link is with the Carrick area in the south west of the county. His mother Anne hails from the area.
Anne Carr is from a family steeped in the GAA. Her brother’s Seamus and Noel played for Naomh Columba and Donegal and are senior championship winners with Naomh Columba.
Dessie is also a cousin of one of the county’s favourite current day sporting sons Seamus Coleman, the captain of the Irish soccer team.

John and Paddy Small are the latest of the Dublin side to emerge as having a Donegal connection.
The Ballymun Kickhams clubmen are the grandsons of Ballyshannon woman, Mary Cassidy.
Mary grew up and lived the early part of her life on the banks of the Erne, on Chapel Street, in Ballyshannon.

Paddy Small, right, and John Small of Dublin shake hands
Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Her father, James Cassidy, was a well known businessman in the town. He owned the Central Hotel in Bundoran, a butcher’s shop, a beer bottling company and a pub in Ballyshannon.
The pub was called the Green Lady, across the road from the Bus Éireann stop.
Robbie McDaid has been a member of the Dublin squad for the last few seasons. His Donegal link is with Buncrana. His father Pat was born and grew up in Buncrana and is a regular visitor to the town.
Robbie is also a first cousin of former Donegal All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Paul Durcan. Paul’s mother Kathleen McDaid from Buncrana is the young Dublin star’s aunt.

Robbie McDaid of Dublin - another player with strong Donegal connections
Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The young defender is an All-Ireland minor and All-Ireland club winner with Ballyboden St Enda’s - alongside his cousin Durcan.
He is having a very good first season in the team and has slotted in at left half back and is filling the boots of departed footballer of the year Jack McCaffrey.

One of the men standing between Robbie McDaid and a place in the final is the Cavan captain and goalkeeper Raymond Galligan.
The Cavan skipper’s link with Donegal is through his wife Niamh Martin from Donegal Town. Niamh and her family are all life-long and ardent Donegal and Four Masters supporters.

Cavan captain Raymond Galligan lifts the cup after his team’s victory over Donegal in the Ulster final Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Galligan and Martin households may have been divided ahead of the Ulster final meeting with Donegal,
But now that the Donegal race is run the Martin clan will be once again united in support of Raymond Galligan and his Cavan team mates.

Charlie McGeever is a key member of the Tipperary backroom team. Manager David Power, McGeever and former Dublin player Paddy Christie are plotting and planning how to overcome Mayo in Sunday’s semi-final.
Tipperary ended an 85-year senior football championship famine with a shock Munster final win over Cork. Cork had defeated the highly fancied Kerry, in the provincial semi-final.

Selector Charlie McGeever, left and Tipperary manager David Power after the Munster GAA final in which Tipp defeated Cork PICTURE: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Former Finn Harps manager McGeever is a big wig in Tipperary football for well over a decade.
He guided his adopted club Clonmel Commercials to a rare Munster club championship success. He also guided the fortunes of the Tipperary minors for a number of seasons and led them to an All-Ireland final appearance before going down to Kerry in the decider.
Charlie is native of Derryconnor, Gortahork. He played his early football with his home club Cloughaneely. He also played minor and U-21 with Donegal before concentrating on soccer.
He was on the books of Tottenham Hotspur before being struck down with a career altering injury. He played with Fanad United and in the League of Ireland with Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers.

Mayo link
Tipp come up against a Mayo side which also has a strong Donegal link.
Eoghan McLaughlin has stepped into the Mayo team at wing back and really has been the find of the season for James Horan.
His father Danny is a Moville native who moved to live in Westport after college. He was a stylish soccer player. Eoghan has family still living in Moville, including aunts and cousins.

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