Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Croker echoes to thrills of Donegal as McGuinness's boys hot-foot it to the hills with Sam

All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Sarah Mc Donald, from Armagh and Naimh Brittan from Ballybofey.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
Mary Bradley closing her BandB to watch the final in Downing Co.Donegal for the Final. Puc By Philip Fitzatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal players console Keith HigginsMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Donal Vaughan dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoLee Keegan of Mayo is consoled by Jason Doherty at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Seamus O'Shea dejected at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoCaptain's Michael Murphy and David Clarke with referee Maurice DeeganMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Colm McFadden celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMichael Murphy of Donegal scores the first goal of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Paddy McGrath and Aidan O'Shea of MayoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Kevin, Meabh and Marie Connolly watch the All Ireland on the big screen at Belfast City Hall.
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone get ready to watch the All Ireland final from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy lifts the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Aidan O'Shea dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo manager James Horan reacts during the final moments of the matchMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoGoalkeeper Paul Durcan and Donegal players celebrate at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDavid Walsh (top) and team mates jump on goalkeeper Paul Durcan at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness celebrates with players after winning the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's winning manager from 1992 Brian McEniff and Donegal manager Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy scores a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Ronan Mc Parlandfrom Hilltown, Oisin Mc Kee from Kilcarr, Cahal O' Grady from Kilcarand r Ruairi Keenan from Donegal Town.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeBronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal's Jim McGuinness is congratulated with fans
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town shops. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Paddy McGrath is hungry for success and wants to get his hands on an All-Ireland medal
US President Barrack Obama, whose ancesters came from Mayo, supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey shop window, Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the more novel ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A giant bear is just one of the more inventive ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
Donegal fans, Gertrude Kelly, Anthony McLaighlin and Marian Kelly pictured in Malin ahead of this weekends All Ireland final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Two sheep outside Malin which have been dyed in Donegal County colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final and one dyed with the red and green colours of County Mayo. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A message painted on a field outside Malin village in County Donegal refering to Jim McGuinness, manager of the All Ireland finalists. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
The Carman's Bar outside Muff, County Donegal which has been painted in the county colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Muff businessman Peter McLaughlin whose business Donegal Signs, has boomed in the days leading up to this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, with the celebration cake in a Donegal Town bakery. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
A flag seller sets out his wares for Donegal's All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park 26/8/2012Cork vs Donega lDonegal's Mark McHugh celebrates the final whistle
Donegal Football Press Night, Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal 4/9/2012 Paddy McGrath
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Caravan outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 From L-R Phelim Brady, Declan Breslin and Tom McHugh and Conor Cassidy with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Declan Breslin with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 The scotsman Bar in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Catriona Ward from Dungloe in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Car outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Support from the Garda for the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The Diamond in Donegal Town where the team will return to following their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the messages of support in Letterkenny County Donegal as fans show their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A good luck message spelt out in white sand bags which dominates the hills around Malin village in County Donegal ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inprespics.com.
County Donegal GAA fan Fiona McHenry from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A woman passes a mural supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
County Donegal GAA fan Robert Bredin from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Stones mark out the Malin Head community's support and confidence that the County Donegal team will win the All Ireland Final. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Cork vs Donegal Donegal fans Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Bredagh Breslin from Creeslough, Co. Donegal beside a mural of Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Kieran Murray
Mark McHugh fulfils a vital role at |the heart of Donegal’s tactical blueprint

Less than three minutes in, and Hill 16 was boiling in a riot of delirium. But what unfamiliar colours bedecked the sacred terrace of Croker on All-Ireland Final day.

No sky blue sea of Dublin or the imperial green and yellow of the Kingdom or the white and red of Tyrone. Instead, the Hill was a seething sea of sunshine yellow and a splash of green.

It was Donegal rising. One goal up with fewer than 180 seconds on the clock.

It was never supposed to be that easy. This was billed as the Big One, when two counties side-stepped out from the mighty shadows of the footballing giants who effortlessly passed Sam between them from year to year. But Donegal versus Mayo was set to change all that.

It was a long, long reach back into the past -- back to 1948 -- when two teams from Ulster and Connacht faced each other in an All-Ireland.

John T Costello was the second Taoiseach. Harry Truman was re-elected president of the United States and gas rationing, introduced in 1942, had just ended in Dublin.

What's more, these were two hungry counties. Twenty years had passed since Sam was carried aloft by the men and women of Tir Chonaill up and down the roads of the Inish- owen peninsula, through the highland villages of Ardara and Glenties and on to Gweedore.

Oh, but Mayo were hungrier still. Sixty-one long years had elapsed since they took possession of Sam. They were the bridesmaids at four All-Irelands in 11 years between 1996 -- when they came agonisingly close to victory -- and 2006.

In the run-up to yesterday, even in the dizzying aftermath of beating the champions Dublin in a display of grit and talent and sheer doggedness, Mayo barely dared to dream.

Even the team seemed to be willing the county not to be swept away in a frenzy of hope -- as Ballinrobe's Donal Vaughan said on the radio last week with a degree of quiet satisfaction: "There are no sheep being painted in Mayo."

Mayo had the Taoiseach in their corner (he wasn't painted red and green, though no doubt he was sorely tempted), and in his way, Enda Kenny -- who had been up to high doh all week about the match -- typifies the complex tangle of family roots of GAA loyalties.

He was born in Castlebar in the year his county last were champions, when his father Henry played on the winning team -- the son of Donegal woman Eithne McGinley.

Enda had said last week he would have a word with Pope Benedict on behalf of Mayo. But from the frantic start, it looked like God was sporting yellow and green.

One lightning-quick goal by Donegal captain, Glenswilly's Michael Murphy, another on the 11th minute by Colm McFadden, and no answer from a Mayo who seemed dazed.

But the men from Mayo were never going to roll over and cede the glittering prize of Sam without a fight. Their manager, James Horan, had instilled belief in this band of 15 brothers, and the ability to dig deep.

And then there were the fans, all 82,269 of them, who had made the proud pilgrimage from the Atlantic seaboard.

Yesterday, the Hogan and Cusack stands shook with song, a far remove from the more muted finals of recent years.

And Mayo did dig deep. Point by painstaking point they scrambled to close the gap. It became a first half of two halves. Ballintubber's Cillian O'Connor booted over three points. Their forwards began to trouble the hitherto unflappable Donegal defence.

Mayo tails rose. Going in at 10-7 seemed like a promise of an overturn to come, when the underdogs would bite back. Thirteen long minutes passed without a score from Donegal. Anything could happen.

The second half. See-saw. The heavy hand of history hovered and nerves began to show.

Donegal fought back with some quick points. Cillian O'Connor slotted over a free from an impossible angle. Mayo chased and chased.

As the giant clock showed 70 minutes, Mayo had a goal stopped on the line. Four points between them.

The whistle sounded. It was 2-11 to 0-13. All around Croker, yellow flags unfurled like sunflowers facing the last gentle rays of autumn. Sam was heading back to Ardara and Glenties and Gweedore and Buncrana and Dungloe. It was heading for the Hills of Donegal.

Golden streamers fluttered from the rooftops as captain Michael Murphy raised the trophy. He thanked everyone, but the loudest roar was for the manager maestro, Jim McGuinness -- "his passion for Donegal is indescribable".

But there was passion everywhere, on the pitch and in the stands. Tirghra, passion for their own piece of land -- right to the final whistle.

Donegal scorers: M Murphy (0-03f), C McFadden (0-03f) 1-04 each, R Bradley, N Gallagher, F McGlynn 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: C O’Connor 0-05 (5f), E Varley (1f), K McLoughlin 0-02 each, L Keegan, M Conroy, R Feeney, J Gibbons 0-01 each.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden

Subs: D Walsh for Bradley, M McElhinney for McBrearty, C Toye for McLoone

Mayo: D Clarke, K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, A O'Shea, K McLoughlin, J Doherty, A Dillon, E Varley, C O'Connor, M Conroy.

Subs: A Freeman for Doherty, J Gibbons for Conroy, R Feeney for Varley, S O’Shea for Moran

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

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