Archive for January, 2013

That Was Our Year

A while ago, I asked my followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook to share their favourite memories from Donegal’s road to the All-Ireland.  My main reason for doing so was that I would capture all those moments that took place before the Final, as win or lose, we were having a great year.  After the All-Ireland Final, I asked them to update me with their memories of that day.  Now, on the eve of the start of the 2013 season, it’s high time that I got around to recapping a wonderful 2012 Championship season, from the perspective of those of us who lived it.

Below are a few of our favourite things from 2012. I’ve provided a link to everyone’s Twitter account and just quoted the tweets as I couldn’t figure out a better way to do it.  I hope I’ve managed to represent what everyone sent in the way that they wanted to see it, and I hope I’ve used everything I was sent.  Here goes.

MEMS

When she’s not moaning about having to get up for work, Mary-Ellen Murray, is someone who brilliantly captures the feelings that many of us watching Donegal felt over the past year. I think the Cork game was the best performance we have ever seen from a Donegal team:

Never once believed cork would beat us, but in the last 60 secs of the semi, I was standing in the hogan stand as the realisation hit me that we were going to be in an allire final.. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, was visibly shaking but so so proud, that’s the stand out moment for me of an absolutely incredible year,could probably rhyme off a dozen more

Her memories of the final – so so similar to my own:

“so so many! Breakfast with the family; walked to Drumcondra; smiles, lots of smiles; Murphys goal; Mayo people staying to join in the celebrations; hugging strangers; jimmys winning matches; tears – lots of tears. PRIDE”

The Follower

A man who goes to every Donegal game and who I had the pleasure of meeting on 23 September, Gerry Ward had lots of memories – good job I got them before he forgot them!

my fav moment was @neilgerardgalla getting man of the match in semi final, no player was or is more deserving this year” – what a performance.

or big @durpapa save in last minutes V Tyrone in clones was close as well” – definitely one of the defining moments of the summer.

ryan brad made an amazing one handed catch v Derry 2 nd half” – Ryan was outstanding that day, and again in the Ulster Final.

and it’s a long way back but @neilgerardgalla got a standing ovation when taken of in Cavan

The last one was the first special memory for me of the 2012 Championship – I don’t recall too many players getting such a reception in my time watching Donegal.  A real sign of what these players mean to us, and great to see Neil get the recognition. Boy did he reward us with some great displays over the rest of the summer.

Ulster

Gerry brought back memories of the first day out in Cavan, but my good friend Tommy Simmons reminded me of something that stood out in the first round game – Paddy McGrath running out to throw himself in front of a late Derry shot on a wet day in Ballybofey when the game was long since won.  No show-boating, just a great attitude.

Liam Porter paid tribute to our custodian “Don’t forget a couple of fantastic saves by @durpapa not sure which one was best.” Of course what Liam meant to say was that the best was the one that Paul made late in the day against Tyrone in the Ulster Semi-Final.

They tried, but they couldn’t keep us off the pitch in Clones when we retained our Ulster title. James Byrne got as close as anyone to Jim McGuinness  that was at the end of a great day – that second half performance was the moment when I started to feel that this was going to be a really special year.

Kerry Gold

Before the Final, a lot of folks’ favourite moments came against Kerry. For Donegal, that game was a statement win.

Chris McNulty liked the intent from the word go. “Colm McFadden’s opening missile against Kerry. A statement that we weren’t there to be second best.”

Alan Stephens had several from that game  “2 for me. McLoones point v Kerry which was the perfect manifestation of #totalfootball. And Laceys pt v Kerry to seal it.”

Damien Dowds illustrates perfectly why Karl Lacey was Footballer of the Year “the moment when @KarlLacey4 intercepted Kerry’s final attack. He’d just scored at the other end, but got back to defend.”  

As does James Byrne, who brings back memories of the mood in the stadium that day “Lacey’s point at the end of the Kerry match great moment the atmosphere in the stadium was electric!!”

Final Day

Who can forget the Hill?  Not Chimp100 (if that is your real name…)  “hearing the homes of Donegal being sung on the Hill priceless will never forget it!”

And this, from Chris McNulty, was brilliant “seeing the face of a 10-yr old child of@cairindebrun cousin after the game. Sheer raw emotion at getting to the game, words couldn’t describe it, Ciaran. My own joy paled into insignificant to see that appreciation from a kid”

Of course, we can’t fail to mention this, again from Chrisand lest we forget the moment time stood still for Murphy’s goal. Magic moment.”

For me, here’s what stood out from the day of the Final – the nerves on the train, the sheer volume of people around Jones’ Road, storming away from The Hogan Stand pub and leaving the family behind as I wanted to get to my seat, walking over the Canal and thinking about Andrew Duffy’s family and how they were feeling, meeting Bradas on the way into the ground, meeting Pauric and Gerry in the stadium, Michael’s goal, Frank’s point, Neil’s point, being with my family at the final whistle, the relief, the joy, meeting George, Tommy and Brian afterwards…it’s impossible to capture it all in words.

Cry me a River

Even now, I shed a tear when I watch the action from last summer (yes, when it comes to Donegal, I really am #toosaft).  I wasn’t the only one getting emotional. Heck I’m welling up again reading through some of your tweets.

Like myself and Mary-Ellen, Tara McHugh was overcome by our win over Cork “Semi-final.. Standing in croke park when the final whistle was blown with tears streaming down my face#VeryProud

Chloe McGeebeing in croke park when the final whistle went Looked round and saw grown men and woman crying tears of joy and happiness

Grainne Ward “a lot of tears haha”

Frances Harkin “Getting ticket to the match, Murphys goal, crying at final whistle, dancing like lunatic, Harcout that night-best day ever!”

George SimmonsToo many to list, Murphy s goal, ballin crying at the final whistle, jumping the wall of the Burlington! Dromod!!”

The Burlington story is a great laugh – I wish I had been there to see it. Doubt I would have made it over the wall mind you.  And the Dromod reference is explained here.

It wasn’t all tears 

Alan Stephens recalls the moment when it begun to sink in.  And of course the Harcourt, where I’m sure spirits were high – N Gallaghers point – the one that sealed it for me. And when Lacey and Murphy ran to the hill with SAM. Oh and the Harcourt

For Frank Craig, the most precious memories involved a drunk uncle in his y-fronts and the happy face of goalkeeping coach and fellow Ardara man Pat Shovelin on the big screen after the All-Ireland Final, at the end of what was a very memorable week for Pat.

Gerry Ward has a laugh when he remembers the Little and Large Show in Breffni “and funniest moment for me was V Cavan the goalie coach was dispatched by jim aftr @durpapa made a few bad Ko wat a sight to see @patshovelin1 5 ft nothing wagging finger at @durpapa 6.5 #mybestlaugh have neve let him forget about it”

And don’t forget the hard working lads at Donegal Dollop, poor auld Charlie was all over the shop in the run up to the Final:

“Frantically trying to make relevant photoshopped pics for the Tir Chonaill masses… And I don’t even like football!”

Spare a thought

Spare a thought for Mayo and the rest – for all the joy we felt, there was plenty of others who felt otherwise throughout the year – like Brian Padden on All-Ireland Final day

“being depressed after 4 minutes and thinking “how many f*ing times do we have to go through this?”

Hey, I get it.  It’s a shame someone had to lose, and Mayo unfortunately are no stranger to falling short at the final hurdle.  But their supporters helped make it a great day – Ive been looking forward to our trip to Castlebar for the National League game for some time now, and if all goes to plan, we might see them in Croke Park again this summer as Ulster Champions and Connacht Champions are slated to meet at the semi-final stage.  Let’s hope that comes to pass – I’m sure it will be another great day out.

Finally

I’d like to close the book on 2012 by thanking all of you for reading, retweeting, commenting and giving your views on this blog. Thanks especially to everyone who contributed to this particular post – it’s wonderful to know there are so many out there who feel as passionate about our team and our County as I do.  I look forward to continuing the blog throughout the 2013 season – I hope that I have enough material to take me through to September at least. But if this year is even half as good as last year, we are in for another great summer.

Until Victory, Always.