Legendary former Donegal manager Brian McEniff will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Croke Park tomorrow at the GPA Former Players Reunion Lunch.
On Sunday, McEniff and the Donegal team of 1992 will be the silver jubilee team paraded at Croke Park at the All-Ireland football final, 25 years on from their famous capture of Sam Maguire.
McEniff has broken many moulds in Gaelic Football in Donegal.
Since he first dabbled in the world of Donegal GAA upon his return from Canada in the mid-1960s, McEniff’s association with the games in the county has been unrivalled.
As a club player, McEniff played on the famous St Joseph’s team that dominated the club scene in Donegal during the 1970s. He was a winner of Dr Maguire with Joseph’s in 1965, 1968, 1970, 1973,1974 1975 and 1976 while he was also a winner with Bundoran in 1979.
In 1972, he became the county’s first ever All Star and was a player-manager as Donegal won their first Ulster title.
The Bundoran hotelier was involved in Donegal’s first five Ulster Championship wins.
His first came in that historic day in ’72 when they beat Tyrone 2-13 to 1-11.
At wing-back, McEniff was a member of the side that collected the Anglo Celt again two years later as Down were beaten in the decider.
Yet again, though, an All Ireland final appearance eluded the green and gold, Galway taking the win two years after Offaly ended the hopes.
In 1983, the Tir Chonaill men were back on the Clones podium again with McEniff this time as manager of a side that was just pipped by Galway in the All Ireland semi final of the same year – a defeat that still haunts McEniff to this day.
Seven years later, McEniff guided Donegal to their fourth Ulster title and, while Mayo were triumphant in the semi final, the signs were there that the big breakthrough wasn’t far away.
Sure enough, on September 20, 1992, Donegal went daft, Manus Boyle scored nine points, Donegal defeated Dublin 0-18 to 0-14 and Sam was for The Hills.
Having stepped down as boss in ’94, it looked as if that was that at inter-county management level, but in 2003 – after he, as County Board Chairman, stepped in to fill the gap following Mickey Moran’s departure – the oracle was worked again when he took Donegal through the Qualifiers and into a semi final. The old man was at it again, the eternal flame flickering once more on the national stage.
McEniff served as an administrator on the County Board and can still be seen on the sidelines with his club.Tags: