GAA Football

Where are they now? Ex-Fermanagh footballer Peter McGinnity looks back on his career with the Ernemen

Peter McGinity pictured with ball during the 1982 Ulster final between Armagh and Fermanagh at St Tiernach's Park, Clones
Neil Loughran

Age: 63

Club: Roslea Shamrocks

When did you play for Fermanagh? 1970-1987, and then I did play one game against Laois to help out in 1991 when there was a terrible injury crisis.

Position: Forward

What do you do nowadays?

I’m a retired PE teacher, I taught at St Michael’s in Enniskillen until 2004, and I was also the Fermanagh games development manager for seven years. I now do tutoring for the Ulster Council, but that’s fairly sporadic.

Are you still involved in Gaelic football?

I’m coaching Aghayaran, who are in Division Two in Tyrone. You’re probably talking two days a week and one at the weekend, and I still really enjoy it. It’s always challenging, and it’s particularly satisfying when maybe it starts to come together.

What do you remember about your first game for Fermanagh?

It was a National League game against Westmeath in Irvinestown, and the likes of PT Treacy and Sean Quinn were playing – Sean was playing centre half-forward and I was wing half-forward. I think we won, though I wouldn’t swear to that.

Late on in the game I got a knee in the lower back, around the kidneys. It was very painful, I could hardly walk, but I couldn’t go home until my mother and father went to bed because they didn’t know I was playing for Fermanagh seniors that night.

It was just about a week after I turned 17, and I was playing with every team in the country at that stage – the club at minor, U21 and senior, college, and the Fermanagh minors and U21s as well.

There were no restrictions on who you could play for, and my parents reckoned I didn’t need that just at the minute.

What’s your best memory from your playing days?

We beat Donegal in the McKenna Cup in about 1977 and that was a high point, but I played in two Ulster minor finals and two All-Ireland U21 finals in the early ‘70s, and they were very enjoyable. You thought you were going to get those days all the time.

The ‘70s was a disappointing time because Fermanagh probably had the players but didn’t have the belief or the organisation to push on, but after that McKenna Cup win we started to play in National League quarter-finals against the likes of Galway and Mayo, and beat the National League champions Down in 1983. That was a high point, I must say I enjoyed that.

And the worst?

It must be an age thing, because I much greater clarity about the things I would like to forget than the things I’d like to remember. The good memories seem to be decreasing in number.

The Ulster final in 1982, where we were within a hair’s breadth of winning [against Armagh], that was very disappointing. That was the last opportunity I had to play in an Ulster final., and it’s a hurdle that still has to be crossed by us.

At club level with Roslea, I missed a penalty in a championship final against Devenish in 1989 and those haunt me. Devenish are having their centenary celebrations this year and they’d like me to come along just to be seen as the person who missed the penalty in ’89!

Biggest character you played with?

‘Red’ McGeough with Roslea. He worked on building sites, and he was a serious man for one-liners in the changing room. A good player, and never deflated.

At county level, I played a lot of Railway Cup with Frank McGuigan. The strength of his hands… he was a plasterer, and when he got hands to a ball it stuck every time.

Are you glad you played in your era rather than today?

I reckon I’d have loved it. I enjoyed training, would have done anything that was asked of me, though I messed about as well. That question is a bit like ‘are you not sorry you’re not from some other county where you would’ve had a bit more success?’

The GAA is about place and there’s nothing I love more than the fact I’m from Roslea, and the fact that I played for Fermanagh. I didn’t get a choice, and I wouldn’t have taken another one had it been offered.

Any regrets?

I wish I had done weights the way they are done now, and I wish I hadn’t drank alcohol because I’d have been a far better player.

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