Glenina still holds magic memories for Farragher

Former Galway United player Donnie Farragher. 
Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Former Galway United player Donnie Farragher. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Donnie Farragher chuckles when the highlight of a most rewarding 1993/94 campaign - overcoming Shamrock Rovers at the RDS - is mentioned.

With Terryland Park being redeveloped, Galway United were on the move, but ended up having a glorious stint in Glenina.

Not far from his home Farragher, who had progressed through the ranks with Mervue United, was making a significant mark on the national stage alongside strike partner John ‘Jumbo’ Brennan. The goals flowed, the reviews proved to be great, and Galway United were relevant.

Shamrock Rovers would eventually be crowed the champions, but one afternoon in the RDS remains a vivid memory for Farragher. United defeated the Hoops 5-2, Farragher rattled the Rovers’ net twice and created another couple of goals.

Several hundred travelling supporters gleefully celebrated in south Dublin and it remains a topic of conversation for Farragher.

“We turned them upside down and inside out,” says Farragher, who has subsequently served on the Mervue and Galway United boards of directors.

“I scored two and had two assists, guys still talk about that day. I am still looking for footage. I know I had some way back on video. A funny story; Ollie Neary gave it to me, I fell asleep one night, sleeping on the remote control, and taped over it.

"I got an Irish Independent Sports Star of the Week award at the time. I don't think too many in the League of Ireland got them back then. At the end of the month they had an awards night in Jury's. The other three winners were Sonia O'Sullivan, Charlie Swan, and Wayne McCullough, and for me for what I did against Shamrock Rovers. It was great to see the League of Ireland was recognised up there with some of our greatest.”

So much happened in Glenina during an action packed spell, and while worries off the field existed, United ploughed on to prosper under Tony Mannion’s shrewd guidance.

“It went fantastic, I think back then an awful lot more of the local clubs brought in and supported,” Farragher recalls. “Mervue was a feeder club then and going to Galway United looked like progress. Representing Galway at the highest level in the League of Ireland was something that was well supported by the club.

“People will say the bar helped, but I just think the location was central. The facilities lent themselves to crowds, there was good parking and a nice bank where people could build up the numbers. We had two or three thousand there, it was very much local. We were playing at the top of our game with a hugely local squad.”

How Farragher, schooled in the Mervue way, and Brennan, the prolific Salthill Devon graduate, combined, illustrated what could be achieved. “Jumbo was such a workhorse, they used to joke that all I could do was score goals,” Farragher laughs.

“Jumbo was the one seen to do the groundwork. We complemented each other. I probably had the physicality and a touch, and if I got a bit of space or created space for Jumbo, he just took off. Jumbo would get the ball, take off, go left or right.

“We created space and we had an understanding. We scored 27 goals in the first season. We have a lot of good memories from there.”

Remarkable times when the maroon jersey was truly respected throughout the land.


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