‘Best 15’ footballers, Kickham’s Creggan

Today’s ‘Best 15’ footballers features Kickham’s Creggan and comes from another good friend to the Saffron Gael, Tony McCollum. Tony very modestly excluded himself from the line-up but he was a hard tackling defender in his time and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a very useful Creggan 15.

It’s ok to select yourself-if you can stand the slagging but remember, it is only a bit of fun and no selection is likely to get universal approval from your club colleagues so why not have a go?

Tony McCollum’s Creggan ‘Best15’ selection

“Paddy that wasn’t easy but here goes”

1. Martín Mc Ateer (Great kick out and as brave as they came) 

2. Seán Maguire (Probably the best and scariest player I played with)

3. Ricky Johnston (Big Ricky just delivers every time and hates full back) 

4. Enda Mc Lernon (Enda Just didn’t give up ask James Mc Carten, Paddy Bradley & Kevin Madden (haha)

5. Sam Maguire (Sam has one of the best engines in the modern game and can play a bit)

6. Marty Johnston (When Mickey Moran said to me at an u16 match that he was the next Séamus Moynihan enough said)

7. Adrian McCann (Dr McCann was the most intelligent footballer on the field just knew where to be and what to do)

8. Terence (Teddy) Mc Keown (Terence was that player who annoyed everyone usually because he always won the high ball)

9. Darrell Martin (Darrell was another player who would go up and down the field all day and no slouch under the high ball)

10. Seán Mc Auley (Seán Mc Auley would go through a brick wall (or 4 men) to win a ball) 

11. Conor Small (Conor to me is poetry in motion when playing probably the most skilful player I’ve seen at the Club)

12. Stephen Mc Kay (Stephen was a flying machine with a great eye for a goal) 

13. Adrian Dougan (Adrian was that pest who would continually annoy you but would always win the dirty ball)

14. Mark Dougan (Mark has been our go to man and he’ll never let you down score from anywhere) 

15. Ruairi McCann (Ruairi is too versatile for his own good so put him in the corner and let him free to score and defend) 


16. Kevin Small (Kevin is another young player with a big future a strong runner with the ball and can score) 

17. Vincie Maguire (Mr reliable was always there in full back and when coming out he always had the ball with him)

18. Conleth Mc Cann (Conleth was one of them players you knew would always win the ball and very seldom wasted it)

19. Oistin Mc Ateer (Oistin was another player that when he came of the field you knew he had given everything) 

20. Dermot Mc Cann (Big Dermot always looked knackered until you tried to go past him then the big hand came out and up the field strode Dermot)

Let the slagging begin!

The ‘Best 15’ footballers launched today

Today the Saffron Gael launches a new article and its one I’m sure will generate a lot of interest as the site goes into year 4 since our launch in May 2017.

We are asking contributors to name the best 15 club footballers from within their time involved with their own club. Remember it’s only a bit of fun and like our very successful team of the week competition it’s unlikely that your selection will find universal agreement.

Say something about the players in your selection and to set the ball rolling Dunloy native and Saffron Gael contributor, Brendan McTaggart gives us his best 15 Dunloy footballers that he has watched.

Brendan’s too young to remember the great Dunloy football championship winning sides from the 1920’s and 30’s so his side includes players from the last 30 years or so and it’s a formidable looking outfit.

Hopefully we will be able to publish a team every day for the next number of weeks but that depends on representatives from each club sending us your best 15 footballers that you have had the privilege to watch.

Later we are going to extend the ‘best 15’ to hurling and you might start sending us your best club 15 hurlers as soon as possible but for now here we go with the best 15 footballers from Dunloy

Brendan McTaggart’s best 15 Dunloy football team

Mission impossible.  Some quite brilliant players in both codes have wore a Dunloy shirt and I’ve tried to narrow them down into a starting 15 from the last 30 years.  Far from an easy task and even now when I’ve finished I could make a few changes in either team.  But here it is.  My attempt at Mission Impossible.

Dunloy’s Best 15 since 1990 – Football

  1. Sean Doherty
  2. Conor Cunning
  3. Conor McKinley
  4. Eamon Downey
  5. Nigel Elliott (senior)
  6. Gregory O’Kane
  7. Kevin McQuillan
  8. Dermot McFerran
  9. Johnny McAleese
  10. Gareth McAllister
  11. Colm McGuckian
  12. Benny McGarry
  13. Kevin McAllister
  14. JJ McFerran
  15. Chris Kearns

There’s plenty to chose from.  Dunloy have produced plenty of quality ‘ballers’ through the years who were equally as gifted with the big ball as they are with the sliotar.  A few notable absences and first names on the bench – Paudie Shivers, Malachy Molloy, Joe McErlain, Sean McIlhatton, Darren Webb and Tony McGrath while Justin Dooey got pipped to the number one jersey by Sean Doherty. 

Woody played in the forward line in recent years but his displays on the edge of his own square during Dunloy’s championship run in ’07 were immense.  Gregory O’Kane could have made any team in the county in any era in my own opinion.  Just like his exploits with a hurl, ‘Dick’ excelled and read the game like no other.  Nigel ‘senior’ was another was one of the first names on the sheet while Kevin McQuillan brought his talents from underage through to the seniors.  Eamon Downey was better known for his displays from half back as a marauder and occasionally in midfield but a superb reader of the game and I’ve moved him back a line to include ‘the Bear’ in front of him.

Midfield was difficult.  I moved ‘Parrot’ to wing forward as I just had to make room for ‘Big Paws’ while Dermot McFerran was one of Dunloy’s mainstays for many’s a year in midfield.  McFerran was another strong ball carrier and excellent in the air while Johnny was one of the best clean catchers of a ball I’ve ever witnessed.  Loved a tackle and relished the challenge and to be honest, he had to be in there for his famous ‘air horn’ celebrations.  Legendary throughout the village.

The forward unit was difficult to choose.  That being said, my first two names on the sheet were ‘The Dip’ and ‘JJ’.  Benny was the most naturally gifted footballer I ever witnessed and could turn his marker in a phone box while JJ’s vision, accuracy and partnership with The Dip was one of the best ever.  On the gaelic pitch and soccer!

Cookie was a fierce competitor and strong ball carrier and a natural at number 11 while Kevin ‘Rev’ McAllister is the ageless man.  Some say he’ll be 38 on his next birthday, some say he’s playing as well now as he did 20 years ago.  Chris ‘Powder’ Kearns led the Dunloy attack for many’s a year and had a burst of speed that saw him leave his marker for dead more often than not. 

We will leave it up to clubs to nominate someone to send us their selection so if you would like to take part send us your ‘Best 15’ club footballers from your own club to ptrckmclwn@yahoo.co.uk or john.mcilwaine@yahoo.co.uk

The Saffron Gael journey started three years ago today

The men of 1970. Tomorrow, May 29th, the Saffron Business Forum had planned to honour this great team at their annual Business Lunch at the Crown Plazza Hotel. Covid 19 has put paid to that but hopefully before this year is out they can be back together again to talk about their great campaign of 1970 when they won the Division 2 League title and the All Ireland Intermediate Championship

The journey started three years ago today with the announcement of the Saffron Gael website. The following evening we covered our first game, the Under 21 Hurling final between Dunloy and Loughgiel in Armoy. Since then we have published a further 4,298 stories, covering games in hurling and football, both male and female. The Covid 19 pandemic has affected all of our lives and has hit hit this season very hard, but we soldier on hoping some day in the not to distant future to get back out to a game…..any game. In the mean time we will continue to post stories from the past, not what we all want to see, but it is an opportunity to preserve our county’s history. Thank you all for your continued support so far an hopefully when this is all over we will meet again on the green fields of Antrim, and further afield and celebrate properly the game we all love. A special word of thanks to all our sponsors, without whom this would not be possible. I would also like to thank all the Saffron Gael team who have written reports, taken photos and tavelled the length and breadth of the country to keep this campaign going.

The Antrim team who played Tyrone in the 2009 Ulster Senior Football final in Clones
The men of ’89. The Antrim team who played Tippeary in the 1989 All Ireland final
The Antrim team celebrate on the steps of Croke Park as team captain Mairead McAtamney lifts the O’Duffy Cup after he team’s win over Tipperary in the 1979 All Ireland Senior Camogie final

4Oth Anniversary Championship Celebration in Cargin revisited

On the 4th August 1914 Erin’s Own GAC, Cargin held a special celebration on to honour the team who won the Antrim SFC in 1974. Most of the team who took part in that famous win attended the function and those deceased or unable to attend were represented by family members. A packed house attended the function in the Erin’s own clubrooms and after a meal MC for the night, Dermot Shivers spoke eloquently about the players who brought about that success.

The team of 74 and their representatives at an evening in their honour in the Erin’s Own clubrooms.

Back l-r

Artie Close, Eddie Mc Keever, Donal Laverty, Damian Mc Kee (Seamus Mc Kee RIP),  Laurence Mc Cann, Eamon Laverty, HP Johnston (TJ Johnston), Ciaran Mc Guckin (Geordie McGuckin), Terence Mc Allister.

Middle l-r

Raymond Mc Guckin (Martin Mc Guckin), Colm Grant, Patrick Mc Guckin (captain), Paddy Graffin, Henry Johnston, Terence Laverty (John Laverty), Gerard Laverty.

Bottom l-r

Finnoula Murray (Gerry Murray RIP), Gerard Close, Pat Close, Eamon Close, Sean Quinn, Kyle Johnston (Richard Johnston), Francis Mc Cann, James Mc Corley, Dan Mallon (Michael Mallon RIP), Collette Devlin (Brendan Devlin RIP).

Erin’s Own stalwart, Brian Devlin addresses the crowd.

The Mc Corley brothers, James and Pat.

Ciaran Close who captained the 2006 winning team with his dad Eamon who was part of the 74 team.

JP Mc Corley and his dad James

Francis Mc Cann wows the audience as Sean Quinn looks on.

The Cargin team who won the Antrim SFC in 1974.

Pearses reached the Promised Land in 1968


Two eighteen year old Antrim Football clubs hit the jackpot yesterday for the first time in their career. Moneyglass lifted the county Junior Football crown in a dramatic game with city team O’Donnell’s, while the All-Belfast senior football final also at Casement Park saw North Queen St club, Pearses, easily defeat favourites St John’s. Playing in their fourth senior final in six years, Pearses at last broke through with a very decisive win over old campaigners St John’s, chasing their eleventh title. Unlike previous finals, where the fans had to tolerate dismal weather conditions, the setting yesterday at Casement was perfect, although a swirling breeze played tricks with the ball in a game that by no means was a classic. The winners surprised everyone by the fact that they more or less dominated the game right from the start. They seemed much fitter, tackled hard and tossed the ball about with an air of confidence. This determined combination had the game wrapped up at the interval and had they played with the same zip in the second half, they would have won by a wider margin.


St John’s, apart from staccato bursts, were never really in the picture. Their defence was a little hesitant, mid-field was out of the hunt and their attack never clicked as a unit. The writing was on the wall at the interval. St John’s were truly up against it as they were outplayed in every department and even with wind advantage, they trailed by six points. It was a brilliant move three minutes from half time that sealed the game for Pearses. Earlier, Martin Green was splitting the St John’s defence wide open with spectacular solo run. Combining with high catching Joe Mulvenna, he set off bearded Vinty Kearney down the right wing. The wing forward’s pass found the stocky Jimmy Kelly who placed big Pat O’Hara in position on the edge of the square. The burly Pearses captain didn’t reckon on heroic Johnnies keeper Henry Gallagher who forced him to return the ball to unmarked Kelly who sent a rocket into the roof of the net. Earlier, St John’s must have bemoaned two great chances of goals but Eagleson showed great anticipation when he stopped McGrogan and later a point-blank shot from Andy McCallin.


With such a confident lead, plus the sun and the wind in their backs, Pearses lost their edge. St John’s tried to make a fight of it and the switching of Micky Gallagher and Des Armstrong to centre field gave them more attacking play. This made little difference as the two stars of this win for the North Queen St club really emerged. Full back Aidan O’Prey, a 21 year old school teacher and right half back Jimmy O’Reilly. It was certainly worth flying cherub-faced O’Reilly a 20 year old, from Derby where he is a research worker. On the short side for a defender, O’Reilly out jumped the opposing attack to bring off some brilliant catches.


The cool O’Prey cut off many of St John’s attempts….. So much so that late in the game the Corrigan Park mentors moved corner back John Maguire, ex Fermanagh county star up field to try his luck on the edge of the square. Maguire did fist a point but he too was out caught by O’Prey. When Pearses began to lose their dominance on the game mid-way through the second half, team, manager, Patsy Burns, a happy man after the game took off injured Hugh O’Hara, moved Phelim Green from full forward to centre field and brought on the clubs oldest player, 34 year old process worker Liam Steele as poacher. This helped to tighten up the slack and the title was clinched. Eagleson played a steady game in goals, back Etherson, O’Prey and O’Neill were resolute.


O’Prey excelled while Loughran played it close against johnnies most dangerous forward Sean Burns. Mulvenna had a wonderful hour at centre field where his fielding was perfection and along with the hard working George O’Hara, outclassed their opposite numbers in the first half, success that played an important part in the win. Martin green was the pick of the attack, which moved sweetly at times, but their finishing was poor and a few of the players tended to hold on to the ball too long.


For the losers, goalie Henry Gallagher did his utmost to save his team but there was too much hesitancy by some of the men in front of him. Eamon Grieve, Artie McGlone and Des Armstrong worked hard, while up front Din Joe McGrogan and Sean Burns looked the only match savers, but here, too, shooting was rather sloppy.

Patrick Pearse GAC

George Eagleson

Robert Etherson     Aidan O’Prey     Fergal O’Neill

Jim O’ Reilly           Joe Loughran         Hugh O’Hara

Joe Mulvenna    Geordie O’Hara

Vincent Kearney     Martin Green      Phelim Green

Jimmy Kelly           Pat O’Hara (c)    Seamus Lavery

Subs: Liam Steele for Hugh O’Hara

Scorers: M Green (0-4), J Kelly (1-0), S Lavery (0-1),           

J Mulvenna (0-1)    

St. John’s GAC

Henry Gallagher

John Gough            Eamon Grieve       John Maguire

Artie McGlone         Micky Gallagher    Des Armstrong

Gerry McClory        Clem Stewart

Din Joe McGrogan       Sean Burns          Andy McCallin

Seamus Gallagher      Tony McGlone      Brian Rainey

Scorers: S Burns (0-2), A McCallin (0-1), J Maguire (0-1)