Tributes paid to 'Mr Donegal in New York' Donal Gallagher

Donal Gallagher
Donal Gallagher

THERE has been widespread sadness in New York and his native Killybegs at the sad passing of Donal Gallagher, one of Donegal GAA’s greatest legends in New York.

He was 78 and had been a member of the Donegal New York GAA club for over 40 years and has served as coach and manager over many years.

During that time, he helped many players from Donegal and all over Ireland to get work and was always available to offer wise counsel in times of need.

He was also very instrumental in bringing senior championships to Donegal New York in three different decades, the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s and in organising the annual dance for the club.

Donegal New York have won 11 New York titles and are second only to Kerry who have 28, and Gallagher played a key role in many of those victories from the mid 1980s to the early Noughties.

But he will never be forgotten in Donegal for the way he selflessly helped so many of his fellow county emigrants both men and women, and not all were GAA either, over many years.

Martin McHugh Anthony Molloy, Declan Bonner, Niall McCready, Damian Diver, Charlie Miulgrew, Eunan McIntyre, Barry Cunningham, John Cunningham, Martin Coll, Kevin Cassidy, Noel Hegarty, Paddy Hegarty, Eunan McIntyre, Lanty Molloy, Cathal Campbell, Stephen Cassidy and Leslie McGettigan are just some of the Donegal players who have come under Gallagher’s wing over a period of many years.

Donegal’s All-Ireland winning captain of 1992, Anthony Molloy won county titles in 1986 (when Donegal New York had probably their greatest ever side), 1988 and 1992.

Apart from managing Donegal players, Gallagher also managed the likes of Kerry greats like Pat Spillane, Jack O’Shea, Tim Kennelly as well as Larry Tompkins, Lar Molloy and Jim Gavin of Dublin.

Speaking in 2019, Anthony Molloy said: “Yes Donal was and is a great Donegal man and brought so many great players out, not just from Donegal, but from all over the country.

“He was tactically well ahead of his time and was studying the opposition in great depth," Molloy said.

“He also was a proponent of taking off a man and then putting him on again as Tyrone did with Peter Canavan in 2003 when he was not 100 per cent fit.

“I was lucky enough to win three county championships after going out there first in the early to mid 1980s.

“I think the team Donal had in 1986 was the best ever as we also had the likes of Pat Spillane, Tim Kennelly, P J Buckley, Lanty Molloy, Padraig Dunne and the truly great Larry Tompkins.

“Donegal lost a lot of people to New York in the 1980s, but they were all very well looked after by Donal.

“Donal also brought a lot of Cork lads as well. He was Mr Donegal in those years and was a great fella as well in every way."