People in Focus: St. Macartan’s Lynda Donnelly inspired by motto of “Never, ever ever give up”
Tyrone Ladies football is celebrating a very distinctive occasion in 2016 as the county celebrates 25 years of County ladies success. At this season’s eagerly awaited County Senior finals day, the Ladies County Committee launch the “Team of 25” while also celebrating the County Champion of 25 years ago, An Charraig Mhór.
Carrickmore have enjoyed considerable success over that quarter of a century and there is no doubt that their big rivals in that period have been St. Macartan’s. The Clogher Valley side prevented a clean sweep of dominance by their big rivals when claiming a first county title and the rivalry has been excellent ever since.
Indeed, when they take on first time finalists, Killeeshil, this Saturday in Killyclogher, the St. Mac’s club will be contesting their 13th Senior final and bidding for an eighth title win in all, having last captured the honours in 2014.
One player who was looking on in that season but who has donned the St. Macartan’s and Tyrone ladies colours for a considerable period is one of the county’s most talented, consistent and successful players, Lynda Donnelly.
In this weekend’s final itself, St. Macartan’s Lynda Donnelly chases an incredible 15th County senior medal (league & championship) having also featured for Tyrone ladies teams since the late nineties.
With six County Senior championships and eight Division 1 league titles to her credit, not to mention 3 Ulster senior titles and an All Star award with Tyrone, Donnelly has unquestionably been one of the big names of the ladies football scene for a lengthy period of time.
This Saturday she will line out again in her club colours with the prospect of adding a seventh Senior championship crown to her impressive haul. Tyrone Life caught up with the Augher player early this week as we bring you the latest in our People in Focus series…
You can catch the match Live on Teamtalkmag Live Online Radio on Saturday –CLICK HERE
Previous St. Macartan’s players featured in our People in Focus series include…
- Maura McMenamin – Click Here to read her full profile
- Cathy Donnelly – Click Here to read her full profile
- Slaine McCarroll – Click Here to read her full profile
Q&A, People in Focus profile with…
Lynda Donnelly, St. Macartan’s
Football Honours & Achievements:
- 6 Tyrone Senior Championships
- 8 County Senior Leagues
- 2 Minor Championships
- 1 Minor League
- 1 Un 16 League
- 1 Un 14 League
- 1 Junior All Ireland
- 1 Div 2 National League
- 3 Ulster Senior Championships
- 2 Ulster Schools Un19
- 1 Ulster Schools Un 16
- 1 Replacement All Star 1999
- 1 All Star 2000
Looking back, can you tell us about your early years, the big moments that stand out for you and who would have had a big influence on you in those years:
Rosie Mc Ginn came up to Dad in his yard and said to get me out to play football for St Macartans Ladies. I was in P7 and had just won the Tyrone Cumann Na Bunscoil with Glencull Primary School and that was that, off I went to the minors.
Damian Kavanagh was my first manager and no better man. He was way before his time with coaching and managerial skills. The training we done then was as hard and as tough as some of the training we have done recently, although he was limited with his resources. We just ran anywhere there was a hill, usually behind the goals at Clogher pitch and then, when that wasn’t hard enough, we ran with tyres around our waist!
Damian and Aidan Connolly guided us to our first County title, as a club with St Macartans, and no one in the club will ever forget them for the direction they took the club. The legacy lives on to this day. Aidan then continued to be my manager when I started playing with the county, himself and Mary even picked me up every Sunday morning on the way to county training. And of course I can’t forget Mary for fighting my corner in 1994, which allowed me to don the maroon and yellow for St Macartans to this day 🙂
We have been very lucky with the calibre of some of the managers we have had including Ryan Mc Menamin, Conor Mc Carroll and Padraig Treanor in particular. At county level, Niall Colton and Colm Donnelly were fantastic managers. They where completely under-rated outside of our panel. I think that particular group of players from the 2010 campaign could have achieved so much more!
Mum and Dad obviously have had, and still do, have such an influence on my game. Mum was an amazing woman who went to all the matches with dad, she especially loved the county games that where on the far end of Ireland so she could combine the match with a weekend away. She was always the best dressed mummy at any match. She believed strongly in colour co-ordinated outfits with high heels always.
My last memory of mum was the night after of the Aodh Ruadh championship game in 2014. I came home telling her I scored a goal (which was an unusual occurrence) and she swung me around the living room delighted. Her advice going out the door to a match usually was “yous better bloody win that game now” together with a splash of holy water on any parts that might be a bit niggly.
Dad is more particular in his advice, you always know your going to the get a truthful analysis about how you played and always a wee mistake that you hoped he wouldn’t have seen – but knew he would. It’s always good to know you have people at home that will always be in your corner. More recently dad has sponsored the jerseys for the senior team which is nice to be wearing with his name on.
Dad is part of a group of fathers (John Donnelly, Brian Kelly and Gerard Mc Quaid) with our senior team, that are like an army you can always rely on them when the match gets a bit heated to be vocal and stand up for every girl. Although everyone always reckons they are not as bad as Brian Kelly in the stand. But really we are all glad they have our backs!
My school football started with Glencull Primary School where I attended, as mum taught there. We were very lucky as our P6/P7 class were a very close knit group and the boys were more than happy to have the girls play with them. We would have had some tough lunch-time matches with Eamon McRory, Dara Tierney, Thomas Hackett and Michael Harte to name a few. After winning the Tyrone Mini 7s final, myself and Joanne Hackett were nominated to go to an Ulster Blitz, where we were chosen to play at half-time in the all Ireland final and semi final respectively. This was a huge event for any 11 year old and something I will definitely never forget.
Niamh Kindlon from Monaghan was on at the same time as I was in the all Ireland final and, following that, I had many’s a tough game against her in Tyrone and Monaghan’s long rivalry together.
St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley: The year I joined St Ciaran’s in 1st Year, Maria Mc Ginn also started teaching PE there, so there was no danger of not keeping the St Mac’s flag flying. We were very lucky during those years as we had some fantastic players not only from our club but from Beragh, Errigal Ciaran and Galbally. This brought some great times and we won Ulster titles at both Under 16 and Under 19. We were also very unlucky to lose an All Ireland Under 19 final to a Longford school which had Fiona Blessingtion on their team. Fiona also was a major factor in why we lost the Junior all Ireland final to Longford in 1997
Teenage years: When growing up can you tell us about your biggest memories of football in club and/or county,
- …as a spectator
- Tyrone winning the All Ireland in 2003, 2005 and 2008
- Watching Dara play in the all Ireland minor semi final and final in 2010
- …as a player
- Mini Sevens Season in P7, winning the Tyrone title and playing at half time in the all Ireland final
- Winning the Senior League in 2006 after a lengthy spell with no silverware – this win really kick-started the last decade of success for St Macs as a club at all levels
- Winning the 2014 senior Championship
Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…
Where you came from: Tell us a bit about your community, your club and where you grew up?
We live in Collumbrone, which is just on the Ballygawley/Augher border. Our family have always been involved with Augher, through the mens and the St Macartan’s Ladies football teams. Dad played for Augher and then went on to be Chairman and then Treasurer of the club. My brother Dara has played with the men right up from underage to senior level.
Places in Tyrone: Can you tell us about the places in Tyrone which you feel would stand out for anyone visiting the county and which would be well worth going to see?
- We seem to visit the beautiful Knockmany quite a lot but I always be glad to get to the bottom of it.
- Of course St. Patrick’s chair and well in Augher.
GAA Life – My thoughts on…
Former Tyrone greats: Can you tell us, from watching Tyrone ladies and mens teams over the years, tell us the players whom you looked up to and who really stood out for you in the Tyrone Ladies teams and Mens teams?
- Bronagh Holland – one of St Mac’s first county stars. She was amazing at winning her own ball, turning and kicking from any angle over the bar.
- Joanne Poyntz – serious midfielder who was a pleasure to play with in my younger days. We are very lucky that Damian Mc Kenna found her and she is now married into the club, where she can pass on some of her knowledge
- Caroline Donnelly – a fantastic number 6 and definitely someone I would have always strived to play like. Caroline was also the “go to” person for the craic after a game
- Peter Canavan
- Pascal Canavan
- Brian Dooher
All from the ‘masterclass’ Tyrone teams in the noughties.
Can you tell us about Tyrone ladies football, the challenges which lie ahead and what you believe the future holds for the county at the top level?
Tyrone ladies football at county level is at a very difficult stage. I’m sure any of the girls involved with the Tyrone teams that fought to get us to Senior level would be very disappointed with at present.
I feel that Tyrone need to be playing at “senior level” to make any progression and go forward again nationally. Look at this year’s National Football League. The only team Monaghan beat in Division 1 of the league was Tyrone and they then went on to get within the kick of a ball away from an Ireland final – So where Tyrone really that far away?
There are a lot of girls in Tyrone that are more than capable of playing for the senior team but must realise that this doesn’t come easy. Sacrifices have to be made and a lot of work has to be done on your own to get to this level.
The Tyrone county board and committees need to have good management and structures in place at all levels, if they wish to achieve success at the highest level and to help encourage this development that every county strives towards.
At club level, I think the senior club scene is as strong as it ever has been. All league games now fiercely competitive, with some fantastic football on show. It would be great if the leagues were seen by a few more people, which I think it would help promote it better also.
Tyrone Ladies TEAM OF 25 – This is being announced at the Tyrone Ladies final by the Tyrone Ladies County Board. Can you give us your thoughts on a few players you have played alongside/seen over the years who you think should be making the line-up?
There have been some fantastic lady footballers that I have been lucky enough to play alongside who would still make club teams of today.
Caroline Donnelly, Joanne Poyntz, Hayley Boyle, Claire Mc Garvey, Nuala Mc Cartan, Micheala Doherty, Lisa Mc Girr were just some of the girls I played with who had everything you would still want in a footballer on today’s Tyrone Ladies Team. They where brave, passionate, skillfull, determined and had pride in themselves and in the county their where representing.
Social Life – My thoughts on…
Tell us about what things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?
Enjoy heading away for the weekend to anywhere I can think of.
Also catching up with friends and going for a nice meal and a few drinks in the winter time.
Between February and October, however much I dislike it, I’m usually training on a Saturday morning at a time when I would much rather be sleeping.
Tell us best best places to go for a night out in Tyrone or anywhere else in Ireland?
- Mc Kennas Bar in Augher, where Una and Dessie are always delighted to see us after a win
- Sallys in Omagh – the bouncers are always very good to us!
- Spy in Monaghan
Could you tell us what places you have travelled to (anywhere in the world) – and best memories & places that really stood out?
- I played football for the Mayo club in New York for 3 years. I met a lot of good life-long friends there and still enjoy visiting New York occasionally but not as often I would like
- I quite like Dubai – for nightlife, beaches, amazing hotels and shopping
- I enjoyed Vegas, went to the Mc Gregor fight there and generally it was all just a bit crazy but brilliant
- Enjoy visiting new places – anywhere in Europe has been lovely… Really enjoyed Sorrento and Barcelona.
3 Funniest People You know & why:
Mairead Holland, Raymie Mc Elroy (Augher) and Francis the Yankee
Tyrone Life Spitting Image – Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting image doubles’:
I know its been done before but I really think Niamh Mc Kenna and Katie Taylor are similar. And now that Niamh McKenna is working for Game of Thrones maybe it should be that Katie Taylor looks like Niamh Mc Kenna 🙂
My life & favourites…
Gaelic Footballers (Mens and Ladies): Paul Curran Dublin, Peter Harte, Diarmid O connor.
Sports: Usain Bolt, Ronaldo, Micheal Phelps,
Band/Singer(s): Ed Sheeran, Snow Patrol, Picture House
TV Show(s): Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Narcos (Netflix really)
Movie(s): Fast and Furious
Perfume: Victor Rolf Flower Bomb
Food: Indian or Mexican or Andys in Monaghan
Place (apart from home): New York and Dubai or anywhere an aeroplane will take me
Pub: Mc Kennas Augher
Nightclub: Spy, Monaghan
Sports Venue: Croke Park and Fr Hackett Park Augher
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat? Why? Snap chat – quick and effective and leaves no traces unless Cathy D is quick enough
Favourite Facebook or Twitter Page(s)? Twitter – follow a range of sports news website or fashion blogs and lately it’s been hen websites, as we are busy organising a good send off for Cathy Donnelly
Favourite website(s)? Expedia
Inspirational Quote you like?
Never ever ever, give up!