His latest and final instalment is the best one yet, in it he recaps our epic All-Ireland journey detailing all the highs and lows.
He captures perfectly the pride we have in our county, and that despite the heart-breaking defeat to Kerry on Sunday, we’re all PROUD to say we’re from Donegal.
Well tell me have you ever seen, in memories young and old,
The sight of a once-proud Hill transform into a sea of gold,
And tell me have you ever been, so proud of the county where you were raised,
To see two teams chase their dreams on All-Ireland Final Day.
The road we’d travelled had been long and winding, since our first day out in May,
With players bailing out there were lots of doubts, for Jim and his boys to allay,
A tight trip to Derry was our season’s first test, on the plain grasses of Celtic Park,
But as underdogs we defied the odds, and knew this was just the start.
Antrim were next and showed well in patches, but the boys had it under control,
As the team kept on surging new stars were emerging, young O’Connor even slipped in a goal,
Added to him were two more bright talents, two pure sporting thoroughbreds,
Young Ryan McHugh and McNiallais too, adding legs to the experienced heads.
A big test was waiting on Ulster’s big day, a team we’d lost to one year before,
Behind two iron curtains, one thing was certain, it wasn’t going to be a high score,
Monaghan’s boys were gamey and tough, not afraid to dole out a slap or a belt,
Though the tackling was cruel, Donegal kept their cool, and claimed back the Anglo Celt.
Out of Ulster and into the quarters, who knew where the season would lead,
But in Armagh came a boulder, nearly knocking us over, until McBrearty stepped into the breach,
After some valiant efforts it all seemed set up, for Dublin to ruin the ball,
For us to advance there wasn’t a chance, we needn’t bother show up at all.
In the face of the danger McGuinness was laughing, because he had the master plan,
To come up with a scheme to beat football’s best team, Jim was your only man,
In over an hour the Dubs were dismantled, by Donegal’s brave non-conformists,
In the late summer heat the plan worked a treat, surely the county’s best ever performance.
With the bookies sickened the gold boys marched on, and looked forward to another final,
Not just them going through, the minors did too, continuing the upward spiral,
Awaiting them both was a proud football county, the unmistakeable Kingdom of Kerry,
As the county went crazed with colourful displays, we knew we’d come a long way from Derry.
The sun was out and the scene was set, on the third Sunday of September,
After last year’s pain we were back again, buzzing from a year to remember,
The minors were first in the curtain raiser, but still a match of the highest importance,
Playing with honour under the man Declan Bonner, they promised a big performance.
And battle they did for a solid hour, every lad gave their all to the fight,
In the end there were tears through the Kerry cheers, but still the future looks bright,
As they walked off the pitch with heads still held high, Croke Park inhaled a deep breath,
But it wasn’t long till the seniors were on, ready to scrap to the death.
Croke Park was full and bathed in colour, beneath the strong autumn sun,
Two teams from the west on an All-Ireland quest, with an atmosphere second to none,
For our final outing it was only fitting, for a couple of late rearrangements,
Jigger and Rory replaced McBrearty and Christy, both looking to make big final statements.
But Kerry drew first in the heat of the duel, a goal with barely a minute gone by,
Next it was Star to send one over the bar, and let out a thumping war cry,
From those in their seats to us on our feet, we prayed for divine intervention,
But Murphy our saviour wouldn’t tolerate failure, two frees brought us back into contention.
We were keeping in touch but our play wasn’t great, as we lost our way in the sun,
Jigger surely ploughed but got lost in the crowd, he’ll have more big days to come,
With O’Connor leaving Toye stepped in, all year the man’s been possessed,
With little ado he went charging straight through, and McNiallias helped out with the rest.
Still time for one more before half time came, Karl Lacey popping up with the score,
A point cool and classy from this Donegal Daddy, to the sound of a deafening roar,
The goal was a blow but the boys had come back, to level at 1-3 to 6,
So little in it after 35 minutes, the game very much in the mix.
The teams re-emerged to the sound of Bruce Springsteen, singing about ‘Glory Days’,
Murphy gave us the lead and it seemed indeed, that the boys were coming ablaze,
But Kerry came back and levelled it up, through a Murphy of their own,
The game was tight in the midst of the fight, the winner still very much unknown.
What followed was scrappy with wide after wide, the shooting on show was quite blunt,
Until a lad named Keane came on the scene, and edged Kerry back in front,
The tension was growing as the clock kept on ticking, one mistake could make all the difference,
What happened then to our finest of men, turned the game in one crazy instant.
For so many years when picking the teamsheet, there’s only been one number one,
A one man brick wall, a beast under the high ball, a proud Town of Donegal son,
Yes on this day he made a mistake, when Donaghy was dangerously lurkin’,
But on other days of struggle he’s got us out of trouble, always a hero is our Papa Durcan.
Despite the blow Donegal weren’t finished, McBrearty led the rescue mission,
And Neil McGee took a run up the field, to score from a forward position,
The gap was just one, the game was on, but Kerry were up to the task,
Three points in a row where a crushing blow, and left our boys a big ask.
Molloy hit a score and so too did Toye, but Sheahan he answered them back,
As the time ticked down Kerry passed it around, not allowing Donegal attack,
But a chance was to come for that much needed goal, as Murphy showed his might,
McBrearty had a go but the keeper got down low, and McFadden’s rebound came off the upright.
As Kerry spilled away the final whistle blew, the Kingdom were champs once again,
The men of Donegal had given their all, their faces told a story of pain,
Though bruised and battered and feeling so low, you know that you can’t win them all,
When they looked to the crowd they saw people so proud, of the heroes that represent Donegal.
So it ended in heartbreak for both of our teams, but they gave us such an amazing year,
From the win up in Derry to the loss against Kerry, they fought with honesty and heart so sincere,
The experts may moan and throw out smart comments, but they can never question your desire,
And never fear we’ll be back next year, forever chasing that man Sam Maguire.
You can check out more of Neil’s poems and blogs by clicking on the link outlined below.Tags: