13 Aug 2022

Donegal and the Ireland granny rule internationals - and some who missed out

Donegal and the Ireland granny rule internationals - and some who missed out

Kitman Charlie O'Leary and Ray Houghton at Euro 88

When Jack Charlton took over as manager of the Republic of Ireland in 1986, he immediately began digging up some family trees.

The 1966 World Cup winner used the ‘granny rule’ to his advantage, building a squad that qualified for Euro 88, the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup and then the round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup.

The rule stated that: a) He was born on the territory of the relevant Association; b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant Association; c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association …

Donegal, with its historical link to Scotland, has played a big part in the men who’ve used the rule – the ‘granny rule’ or parentage – to play for Ireland; so here’s those that did, as well as some who didn’t.

Sean McDermott
McDermott is Norwegian born – in Kristiansand – but qualifies for Ireland as his father Terence is a native of Mountcharles. The goalkeeper joined Arsenal in 2009 from IK Våg and was loaned to Leeds United in 2012 for a month, the same year he left Arsenal.
Having never played in England, he represented Ireland up to Under-21 level. Still only 28, McDermott is back in Norway having played with Sandnes Ulf before signing for Start in 2016. He is currently in his second spell at Kristiansand, having also played in Romania for Dinamo Bucharest. He has been capped for Ireland at U17, U19 and U21 level and called into the senior squad in 2019.

Rory Delap
Delap – a schoolboys’ javelin champion – was famed for his mammoth throw-ins as a player and is the son of John from Letterkenny and the late Maura from Kells, Co Meath. He was born in Sutton Coldfield and the family moved to Carlisle before he was one.
He played for Carlisle United, Derby County, Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City, Barnsley and Burton Albion – making over 500 appearances – and Ireland, on 11 occasions between 1998 and 2004. Missed the 2003 FA Cup final with Southampton because of an ankle injury and retired in 2013. His son Liam has played for Manchester City’s first team.

Ciaran Clark
The London-born Newcastle United defender – having represented England until Under-20 level made his Irish senior debut in 2011 – is the grandson of the late Vera Clark, originally from Milford.
His father Michael was born in Edinburgh when his family were working in Scotland for a time. The Clarks have a sizable extended family that includes the McGinleys, Lynaghs, McMonagles, Sweeneys and McCuskers. Clarke, now 32, previously played with Aston Villa and has 36 Ireland caps.

Aiden McGeady
McGeady is the grandson of Patrick McGeady from Glassagh, Derrybeg, and Kitty ‘Tim’ from Bunaninver is his grandmother. And although Aiden McGeady played for Scotland Schoolboys at Under-13 level, he declined a Scotland Under-16 call-up and chose to represent the country of his grandparents.
Having played for Celtic, McGeady from Castlemilk, Glasgow, made his Irish senior debut against Jamaica in 2004 and ended up winning 93 caps, scoring five goals. Club-wise, McGeady, now 35, played for Celtic till 2010 and then spent four years in Russia with Spartak Moscow. He then lined out for Everton and was also loaned to Sheffield Wednesday. Preston and Charlton. Currently with Sunderland.

James McCarthy
Another member of the current Irish set-up, McCarthy, the Celtic midfielder from Castlemilk, Glasgow, is the grandson of Paddy Coyle, who hailed from Doire na Mainsear, Annagry. McCarthy made his debut as a 15-year-old from Hamilton Academical in 2006.
He was named SFA Young Player of the Year in 2009, the year he signed for Premier League Wigan Athletic and won the FA Cup in 2013 when the Latics overcame Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley. Following Wigan’s relegation McCarthy joined Everton. He made his Ireland debut against Brazil at the Emirates Stadium in 2010 having spent two years at Crystal Palace, was a League Cup winner with Celtic last month.

Ray Houghton
Oxford United’s Ray Houghton was approached by Jack Charlton not long after his appointment as Ireland manager. Houghton was born in Glasgow, the same city his mother Rita was from, while his father Seamus was from Buncrana.
Houghton made his debut in 1986 against Wales in Charlton’s first game, played 73 times for Ireland and scored six goals – including memorable winners against England at Euro 1988 and when Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in New Jersey at the 1994 World Cup. In a distinguished club career he also lined out for West Ham, Fulham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Reading and Stevenage. He’s currently a football analyst and did consultancy for Sport Interactive’s ‘Football Manager’ game.

Owen Coyle
With his mother Frances a native of Glaserchoo in Gortahork, and his late father Owen from Gweedore, Paisley-born Coyle qualified to play for Ireland during his own playing days, when he lined up for a number of clubs including Bolton Wanderers, Dundee United and Motherwell.
He made just one appearance for Jack Charlton’s side, in a 1994 friendly against Holland in Tilburg, which Ireland won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Tommy Coyne. In management, his highlight was taking Burnley to the Premier League in 2010 and he’s currently in charge at Jamshedpur FC in India.

Charlie Gallagher
Striker and dead-ball specialist Gallagher was the son of Dan and Annie (née Duffy) from Gweedore and is Paddy Crerand’s cousin. He was the first Scottish born player – he was from the Gorbals in Glasgow – to wear the Irish jersey.
The Celtic striker made his international debut in a 2-1 loss against Turkey in Ankara and played later that same year, 1967, against Czechoslovakia. Gallagher had previously played for Scotland Under-18’s. He wore the hoops between 1959 and 1970, scoring 32 times in 170 games before helping Dumbarton Athletic to the Second Division title in 1972. He worked for Celtic as a scout from 1976 to 1978 and died in July, aged 80.

Bernie Slaven
Although he played for a host of clubs – Airdrie, Queen of the South, Albion Rovers, Port Vale and Darlington – Slaven is best remembered from his time with Middlesbrough, where he scored 147 goals between 1984 and 1992.
In the first of his seven caps for Ireland, in 1990, the Paisley native scored the only goal against Wales as he tucked in a rebound following Neville Southall’s penalty save from Kevin Sheedy.
That got him a place in the 1990 World Cup squad, where he complained about missing his dogs at home. He has since, unsuccessfully, run for the Mayor of Middlesbrough and is a popular figure at the football club, a radio pundit, a columnist and an after-dinner speaker.

Tommy Coyne
Coyne scored on his international debut against Switzerland and was the man who led the line at Giants Stadium when Ireland beat Italy 1-0 at USA ’94.
In all, he scored six times in 22 international outings up to 1997. Born in Govan, Glasgow, Coyne was brought up in the Broomloan tenements, which were right in the shadow of Ibrox Stadium – the home of Rangers.
An avid Celtic fan who travelled to Spain to support Scotland at the 1982 World Cup, Coyne’s grandmother was from the Donegal Gaeltacht.
He played for several clubs and was top scorer in the Scottish League three times with three different clubs – Dundee (1987/88), Celtic (1991/92) and Motherwell (1994/95). After losing his wife tragically in 1993, Coyne brought up his children with a son, Tommy, a striker who was at Kilmarnock and played for clubs in the lower leagues in Scotland, while another son Bradley did likewise with Stirling and Forfar.


Paddy Crerand
Crerand’s mother was Sarah ‘Tim’ Boyle from Gweedore and his father Michael was from Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone. Crerand made the trip there for three months every year when on his school holidays from his home in the Gorbals, Glasgow, even playing for Gaoth Dobhair against Dungloe in a GAA fixure as a 16-year-old in 1955.
He joined Celtic as a teenager and played 120 games for the Parkhead side between 1958 and 1963, before making his way to Manchester United in 1963. The 1968 European Cup winner played on till 1971 and after four years as assistant manager at Old Trafford, took charge of Northampton Town in the 1976/77 campaign. Crerand works for Manchester United Television.

James McGroary
Henry McGrory married Catherine Coll at St Johnston in 1887 and the family moved to Scotland three years later. Their eighth child, James McGrory, was born in 1904 at Millburn Street, Glasgow, and his record as Celtic’s record goalscorer (522) still stands today – an astonishing combined tally of 550 goals in just 547 appearances in all competitions for Celtic and Clydebank between 1921 and 1937, with only one goal from a penalty.
Despite this, he only earned seven Scotland caps – scoring six times – between 1928 and 1933. From 1937 to 1945 he was manager of Kilmarnock before being in charge of Celtic for 20 years until 1965, with the highlight being the 7-1 hammering of Rangers in the 1957 League Cup final.
McGrory worked as Celtic’s PRO until 1979 and died in 1982 aged 78.

Kevin Gallen
Former QPR striker Gallen – born in west London – is the son of Jim from Meenreagh, outside Ballybofey, and Tess from Taughna, Co Mayo. And while his brothers Joe (Watford, Exeter, Shamrock Rovers, Shrewsbury, Dundalk FC and Drogheda United) and Stephen (Doncaster) played for Ireland at Under-21, Kevin won the Uefa Under-18 Championship in 1993 with England and played up as far as Under-21 level.
In 1994, the family supported Ireland at the 1994 World Cup against Mexico in Orlando. Gallen is now in youth development role at QPR, the club he enjoyed two successful spells at and scored 80 goals in all for the Loftus Road side. Also played for a number of other clubs including Barnet, Luton Town, MK Dons, Plymouth Argyle, Barnsley and Huddersfield Town.

Stephen O’Donnell
O'Donnell, the current Motherwell captain, played right wing-back for Scotland at Euro 2020. The 29-year-old, who was born in Bellshill, Glasgow, is from Glenties stock. His father Patrick was born there and his mother Mary Jo and late grandparents Maggie and Johnny are from the Braeface, Glenties and he has been known to pull the odd pint in Roddy’s Bar when he’s back in Donegal.

Gary McSheffrey
McSheffrey’s family comes from Ture and he made 450 appearances in the Football League and Premier League, including 247 for Coventry City, where he became the youngest player ever to play in the Premier League. He went on to play for Stockport County, Luton Town, Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, and Leeds United before returning to Coventry in 2010.
Released in September 2013, he signed for Chesterfield later that month. In January 2014, he signed for Scunthorpe United on a free transfer until the end of the 2013–14 season before moving on to Doncaster Rovers, Eastleigh, Grimsby Town, and Frickley Athletic. He scored more than 100 league goals during his career. McSheffrey played internationally for England at under-20 level.

Jimmy Quinn 
Jimmy Quinn was the son of Mrs Philip Quinn, who was originally from Killybegs before moving to Croy, Dumbartonshire. Jimmy signed for Celtic aged 22 by Willie Maley from junior club Smithston Albion in 1900 and went onto score 218 goals in 331 appearances for the Glasgow giants. Quinn was the first Celtic player to score 200 goals for the club. He cemented his place in Parkhead folklore in the 1904 Scottish Cup Final against Rangers, who at half-time led by two goals to nil. In the second half, however, Celtic came back to win 3–2, with Quinn scoring a hat-trick. Quinn won five Scottish Cups and six successive league championships before retiring in 1915. Scored seven goals for Scotland in 11 games. His grandson of the same name was considered to be a member of the group known as the Quality Street Gang in the early seventies, which included future internationals Davie Hay, Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari and Danny McGrain.

Andy Lonergan
Lonergan was signed a an emergency goalkeeper for Liverpool at the start of the 2019/20 season. His first game was a sub for the European Super Cup and was also third choice keeper in the World Club Cup. So, even though he never played a game for Liverpool, he still got a Super Cup and World Club Cup medal, as well as the Premier League. Lonergan's grandmother was the late Aggie Long from Cappry. His uncle John Lonergan, a former member of the Twin Towns Boxing Club, lived in Stranorlar for a number of years in the late 1970s-early 80s and worked in McConnell's Butchers for a spell. Lonergan played 2017 times for Preston North End - even scoring once - having won an Ireland U-16 cap and then 10 for England U-20s. Had spells at numerous clubs, including Leeds United, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham

John McCole
McCole was a cousin of Hudi Beag Gallagher, a former Gaoth Dobhair football player who was named right corner-forward in the Donegal Football Team of the Millennium having played for Donegal in the 1940s and also played on the Ulster team in inter-provincial championship Railway Cup matches in Croke Park. McCole was born in Glasgow to Gweedore stock and played with Vale of Leven before signing a professional contract with Falkirk in 1956. McCole moved to England in 1958 to play with Bradford City, then Leeds United, where he scored an impressive 53 goals in 85 games. McCole remains the only Leeds player to score four goals in a League Cup-tie, achieving the feat against Brentford on 13th September 1961. A month later he joined Rotherham United, before spending a year in Dublin with Shelbourne. Returned to Britain to play for Newport County before stints with Cork Hibernians and Dundalk. Died in 1982, only 46, and is buried in Gweedore.

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