HISTORY - OPENING OF O'DONNELL PARK


 

Opening of O'Donnell Park

It would appear that the first and foremost task these men of our foundation set themselves was the acquisition of a proper field and club headquarters. They set about and bought a field consisting of 7.024 acres at Sallaghagrane for £300 - a big price in those days - and called it O'Donnell Park.  Their tremendous work rate and zeal was rewarded with the opening of the O'Donnell Park on Sunday 2nd May, 1937.  The programme for that official opening reads as follows:

2 00 p.m. - Blessing of the Park by the Most Rev. Dr. McNeely, Bishop of Raphoe.

2 15 p.m. - Official Opening by Mr. P. McNamee, Chairman, Ulster Council G.A.A.

2.30 p.m. - Hurling - Donegal v. Antrim

3:45 p.m. - Address by Mr. R. O'Keeffe President of the G.A.A.

Reply by Mr. P. O'Donnell, Solicitor Dungloe.

4:10 p.m. - Football - Donegal v Armagh.

Note: Spaces both inside and outside the enclosure reserved for the representatives of the Clans of Donegal.

Two well known G.A.A. personalities, Paddy McGill of Ardara, and Alf Murray, former G.A.A. President, from Armagh, played against each other that day.

And so a foundation was laid which has been build on steadily ever since. Others to join the ranks about this period and devoting a lifetime to our Association and club were such people well known to us all as Patsy O'Donnell, U.D.C., Frank Larkin (grandfather of Cllr Dessie Larkin), Roger McRory and Hugh McGovern.

The aforementioned men went on to hold higher positions in the club such as president, chairman, secretary, etc., and were for a number of years the backbone of the club during difficult and lean times. Their contributions were so great that we must all be very appreciative of them for giving us what we have today in both facilities and opportunities.

As well as the formation of St. Eunan's and the opening of O'Donnell Park in the 1930s two other Gaelic teams also emerged during this decade in Letterkenny. In 1931 a team called St. Pat's was born. It would seem that this team was founded because some enthusiasts were not too happy with the new St. Eunan's, and also because they felt the scene had lost much of its glamour and atmosphere with only one team in the town.  St. Patrick's consisted of many of the old Rovers side. Jim 'Fuddy' McGranaghan, Laurence Gildea and Paddy Herron were their chief administrators, and players included Paddy McGinley Neil McGroary, Pat Gallagher, Hugh O'Donnell (father of Mickey 'the Boy' O'Donnell), Mickey McMonagle, Barney Crampsie, Phil McBride, Mijo Peoples, Jim Ferry and Joe Glackin.

They disbanded about 1935. In 1937 another team called St. Columba's emerged. The reason for their birth would seem to be similar to that of St. Pats with perhaps an added reason, this principal reason being that St. Eunan's had taken part in some kind of a soccer tournament in Ramelton and wore the St. Eunan's jerseys. This was against the rules at the time and difference of opinion arose and hence St. Columba's was formed. They operated until the mid-forties when they also disbanded. St. Columba's first officers were: President, Dr. Eugene McDermott,  Chairman, George McCaul; treasurers, Sean McGinley and Michael McMonagle; committee: Pat Murphy, P. J. Mulcahy, Hugh McGovern, Pat Gill, Johnny McGlynn, Laurence Gildea, Paddy Vaughan, James Meegan and Mick Moriarty.  Like the start of the G.A.A. in the town in 1917, this club was also founded in McGovern's Lounge and names such as McGinley, McFadden Pat Gill, J. Boyle, McDaid, Hugh McGovern, Mick Moriarty, Duffy, Sean Ruth, Carroll, Paddy Vaughan, Joe McDaid and McGrenra became established players with Columba's.


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