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GList: Donegal’s top five

These are the five clubs who have won the most county titles in Donegal

1. Gaoth Dobhair

15 titles

GAOTH Dobhair became the out and out championship leaders in 2018 when they beat Naomh Conaill in the decider. But that win ended a gap that stretched back to 2006.

When they won that title in 2006 they were the outright leaders, but then came St Eunan’s who crept up to 14 titles. Pre the 2018 title victory Kevin Cassidy wrote in this paper about how clubs can be held back when they don’t pull together. But in 2018 the club did, thanks to a strong management team led by Mervyn O’Donnell.

This year Gaoth Dobhair are in a strong position to win back the championship.

They are three wins from three and most notably have been scoring very heavily, with an average of over 24 points scored per game.

2 St Eunan’s

14 titles

GAELIC Life was launched at the start of 2007, and for the first three years of the publication’s existence St Eunan’s were dominant in the county.

For a period, it seemed that they were unstoppable. That early run helped to propel them to become the second most successful club in the county. Their 2009 title win brought them level with Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon on 12 titles. They won again in 2012 and the 2014 victory over Glenswilly, when John Haran put in a man of the match performance, brought them to 14 titles, level with Gaoth Dobhair.

Maxi Curran was the manager that year and Haran described him as a magician.

There is still frustration in the club that they were stripped of the title in 1997 after an appeal against them based on an allegation of playing an ineligible player. St Eunan’s are managed by Rory Kavanagh who was captain in 2014. He has led them to two wins in three games played.

They have a chance of winning this year’s title, but it is going to be very difficult as Gaoth Dobhair, Kilcar and Naomh Conaill all look very strong.

3 Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon

12 titles

DURING the mid ‘90s Ballyshannon were dominant, and won titles in 1994, 1997 and 1998. The 1997 title was a controversial one as they won it after appealing against St Eunan’s playing an ineligible player. They had been strong favourites to win that game though, such was their prowess in Donegal at that time.

They would go on to win the title in 1998 to further back up their credentials. Themselves and Killybegs were dominant in the ‘90s. In the 1980s it was they and Kilcar and Four Masters. That success followed on from the period during the 60s and the 70s when they club amalgamated with Bundoran to make the st Joseph’s team. Ballyshannon appear to be building back up over the past few years.

They are up in senior now and have already pulled off a notable result when they earned a draw against Naomh Conaill in round two.

Unfortunately for them, last weekend’s defeat to St Eunan’s, 2-14 to 0-7, has knocked them back a bit. Yet it is interesting to see how this one-time powerhouse is progressing.

4 St Joseph’s (BundoranAodh Ruadh Ballyshannon)

8 titles

The St Joseph’s club was an amalgamation that existed during the 1960s and 1970s and during that time they amassed eight county titles making them the fourth most successful club in the county.

The two clubs had come together at minor level and won a minor title in 1959. Brian McEniff told Donegal Live that the partnership was the driving force of Owen Roe O’Neill. They would go on to win minor titles in 1961 and 1963.

There was plenty of opposition within the clubs for an amalgamation at senior, but the players wanted it, so it happened. From 1965 to 1976 they won eight titles in a period of incredible dominance that supports the argument that amalgamations can be a very exciting and attractive proposition, at least for the teams that are involved.

5 Dungloe

7 titles

Dungloe are the fifth most successful senior team in Donegal history, yet they haven’t won a senior title since 1958.

Only the most mature members of the club would remember the day that they beat St Eunan’s by a point to win that last title. After that final they would get to the decider again in 1960 and in 1964 but lost on both occasions. Frank White, who represented Sligo and Donegal, played for the Dungloe club in 1958.

He was regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation. Having started life playing his football in Knockalassa, he ended up in Donegal as he was stationed there after joining an Garda Siochana.

Of the teams in the top five most successful list in Donegal, Dungloe appear to be farthest away from winning a senior county title as they do not play in the senior championship at the moment.

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Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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