Magical memories of '92 still etched clearly in Donegal minds
Sunday arrived and everyone just wanted to get to Croker. The journey into town with the huge crowds lining the street was something you don’t forget. Soon we were running out underneath the corner of the Hogan Stand and the noise hit us. Nothing can prepare you for that almighty sound that takes the breath from you. As we paraded behind the Artane Boys Band the green and gold seemed to be everywhere.
The game started at a frantic pace, with very little opportunity to take a breath or take water on board. Every time we scored the noise was electric, then the final whistle – mayhem.
I got to see big Anthony Molloy lift Sam from the bottom of the Hogan Stand. All the training, all the travelling and all the disappointments of the past were gone. No longer the whipping boys – finally winners.
Watching the supporters celebrate was something you don’t gear yourself for, including grown men crying. People who supported the team for years and who were present in the bleak days were speechless. That moment when you get to see your family and finally when you reach the dressing room and sit down with your team-mates – they are memories that will live with me for a long time.
Arriving in Donegal on the Monday night and seeing how many people were there to greet us was breathtaking. Every town we went to was the same. Coming home to Killybegs and walking through the town with the two Barrys (McGowan and Cunningham) and John (Cunningham) holding Sam Maguire, meeting your friends and neighbours – it still sends a shiver up my spine.
The younger supporters loved the moment but it was the older people who savoured it most. Not in their wildest dreams did the diehard Donegal Gael ever believe they would see such sights.
There were 28 players in the squad that year, all of whom believed they were good enough to be in the first 15, all of whom weren’t afraid to impose themselves either in the dressing room or at training. But if they believed they were above anyone else they would have been brought back down to earth with a bang. I could tell you we all got on well most of the time but that would not be the whole truth. There were plenty of times when egos would get in the way but when you crossed the white line to play everything was forgotten and everyone got on with their job.