The memories remain as fresh as ever for Donegal’s golden crop of 1992 as they mark the 25th anniversary of their greatest hour.
Even many in their own dressing room thought they were a beaten docket after losing the Ulster final in 1991, but Brian McEniff coaxed them back for another rattle in ’92 – and they did what few believed they could, beating the red-hot favourites Dublin in the final.
Donegal’s number was in when Charlie Redmond skied a penalty in the first half and McEniff’s men led 0-10 to 0-7 at the break.
“We didn’t start great, but it did hinge on the penalty miss,” half-forward Joyce McMullan says now, 25 years on.
“We have loads of great memories. The game still sticks in the memory: The crowd, the roar, moments in the game.
“We had a relaxed approach. We were underdogs, but everything went smoothly for us.
“To a man, we got that we thing of: ‘This is it, this is our chance.’
“When we got to half-time, we looked at one another straight in the face, we knew it was for real and we knew it could do it. Going out the dressing room door in the second half, we were a different group. We had the momentum and we carried it through.”
Manus Boyle helped turn a turgid semi-final in Donegal’s favour, scoring three frees after coming on against Mayo.
When McEniff selected his team for the final, Boyle was in instead of Tommy Ryan.
In the 0-18 to 0-14 win, Boyle scored nine of Donegal’s points.
“When the children are looking at YouTube and they see you, there are proud moments in that,” Boyle says.
“It was all about the group. I was lucky enough to get in. I hadn’t been playing all year. Tommy had been playing all the way through, but the frees fell at the right time for me against Mayo.”
Boyle had been Man of the Match in the 1987 Under-21 final replay win over Kerry, but didn’t start a game in ’92, bar the first round draw with Cavan until that fateful September Sunday when life changed utterly for a group of men from the hills.
Boyle remembers the interval so vividly.
He says: “There was very little said. Nothing needed to be said. We were six inches taller, the chests were out, the shoulders were up. ‘Mac’ didn’t have to say a lot, big ‘Lud’ (Anthony Molloy) didn’t have to say a lot. They had confidence in us and we had confidence in ourselves.
“You just knew it was your biggest hour and you did what you had to.”
Donegal won by four in one of the most unlikely All-Ireland wins of all time and their captain, Molloy, uttered from the Hogan Stand’s steps the now-immortal line: ‘Sam’s for the hills’.
Donegal’s 1992 All-Iceland winners are marking their jubilee anniversary with a series of events including a golf classic on June 16 in Ballybofey & Stranorlar Golf Club.
The squad will be honoured at the Ulster and All-Ireland football finals this year and they will hold a special 25th anniversary gala banquet on October 20th in the Abbey Hotel, Donegal town.Tags: