Donegal legend Molloy lays out glory and pain in new book

IN Donegal there will always be only one Molloy.

And first names are superfluous, for the one who led the mountain men in the shadow of Paradise in 1992.

He wore the quiet dignity of his own Hills like a Gaelic chief and uttered the immortal lines: “Sam’s for the Hills”.

And he really won the hearts of thousands of Tir Chonaill fans with the artless eloquence of his acceptance speech.

Indeed, he had decided to give up the game at the end of 1991, but a chance meeting with Donegal’s great Svengali Brian McEniff prompted Anthony to give it one last go and the rest is truly history.

Tonight in the Blue Haven, Kilcar at 7.30pm his fascinating, at times rollercoaster, life will be captured in book form at the launch of Anthony Molloy, a Memoir on Life, Glory and Demons in conjunction with Donegal journalist and fellow clubman Frank Craig and the book is published by Hero Books and Liam Hayes.

Explaining the background to the book, Molloy said:

“I had been thinking of putting my sporting life down on paper for some time.

“I got a phone call out of the blue from Liam Hayes way before Christmas last year.

“We spoke about 1992, and the great achievement and I would know Liam anyway from playing against him.

“He said it was coming up on 30 years and if I was thinking about doing anything, now was the time to put my thoughts together.

“I was happy with Liam, and he knew what happened in the field and in the dressing rooms and he is a journalist and a publisher and a great man for the job.

“He left it up to me to get a writer and my clubman Frank Craig was the first man to come to mind. I would not have done this project with anyone else."

Molloy is well aware that Donegal's maiden All-Ireland win in 1992 provided much joy for many people, himself included and feels privileged to have been the first man from the Hills to have lifted Sam Maguire

He added: “The highlight for me was captaining Donegal to that All-Ireland title in 1992.

“The best thing I ever did and the greatest thing in my life was to lift Sam Maguire for the very first time for Donegal and there is no doubt but that was the greatest day in my life.

“And it was probably the greatest day in many Donegal people’s lives as well.

“It was pride and fulfilment of everything I hold dear, my family, my home, my native place, my club and my county and the bunch of players that I captained."

He added: “As we all know Donegal went completely mad well into the winter afterwards.

“It is something I look back on as a privileged time indeed."

But it was not an easy road for Molloy as crippling knee injuries threatened his career, and he had actually retired in 1991, before being coaxed back by the ultimate cajoler that is Brian McEniff.

“My injuries started back in 1981 and I had six operations on my left knee and two on my right and I had to go that extra mile and play through pain.

“I was taking painkillers before games and after games, icing it, taking fluid off the knee, and then making comebacks.

“I know for a fact that you would not be let play with those injuries.

“That is the way it was, and I got used to that sort of pain, but we did not have the same facilities and you were on your own devices."

Drink would play a testing part in Molloy's life after those heady days of 1992, and it is something he is fairly open about in the book.

It was especially so when he lost the routine of training and playing matches after he retired from football.

“There was always a big drinking culture in Donegal," he said.

“When you played a club game or a county game you ended up in the pub and that was the way it was.

“A lot of the time it went on to closing time and then you ran it out of your system the next day.

“But the most difficult period in my life was when I retired.

“All of a sudden, I had no training, games or running and I missed the boys and there was a big vacuum there that I was not prepared for.

“It was not easy, and I found myself going to the pubs more often.

“I sought professional help, and I learned a lot about living and I learned a lot about myself.

“I was lucky I met a lot of good people and had the right people around me.

“I read a lot of positive thinking and inspirational books.

“Alcohol was a problem for me at the time, but I also learned that there was more to it than just alcohol.

“Today, with the GPA, there are a lot of different services there and players can avail of these services which I did not have."

The book is published by Hero Books and retails at E Book e9.99, Paperback e20 and Hardback e25.