Fifty years of playing Donegal

mayo-v-donegal-170208From a quick dip into the results archive, it’s immediately clear that (a) we haven’t kicked much ball with Donegal over the past fifty years and (b) most of the kicking has been of the form of them kicking our holes.  We’ve only met them eight times over this period, with all these meetings taking place within the 25-year stretch back to 1984; we didn’t cross paths with them at all in the preceding quarter-century. Seven of the eight encounters occurred in the league, one of which – in 2007 – occurred in the NFL final. Our record over the eight games of one win, one draw and six losses speaks for itself, as does the aggregate score of 8-95 to 5-83 in their favour.  The complete record is set out in the table below.


It’s odd, perhaps, that, despite the very small number of clashes that have taken place between the two counties over the past half-century, we have met quite a bit more recently.  We’ve played each other three times in the past two years, to be exact and, of course, we lost all three of these encounters – first the Division 1 NFL match up in Ballybofey around this time two years back, then the league final against them in April of that year and then last year’s NFL meeting in McHale Park.  That latter one was surely the most galling defeat of the three as we’d played quite well that day and looked to have the points safely in the bag when this happened.

The last time – indeed, the only time in the past fifty years – that we beat the Herrin Gutters was back in February 2005 when we had two points to spare over them in a Division 1A clash at Ballina.  We have plenty of survivors from that clash on the current panel, including David Clarke, Pat Kelly, Liam O’Malley, Peadar Gardiner, Billy Joe Padden, Aidan Kilcoyne, Conor Mortimer, Alan Dillon, Trevor Mortimer and Andy Moran.  Conor (1-4) and Alan (1-2) contributed the bulk of our scores that day.  No change there, either.

Our record of playing Donegal on their home patch is, not surprisingly, a poor one: we’ve lost three and drawn one of the four league matches we’ve played up in the O’Donnell County since 1959.  I was at that drawn match – it was in the backend of 1985 and our lads were in good form following the summer’s championship exploits but it was only a point deep in stoppage time from Noel Durcan that rescued a share of the spoils for us that day in Ballyshannon.

I wasn’t at Croke Park in 1992, however, for the one and only meeting of the two counties in the championship.  That was during my emigrant days in London and, if my memory serves me correctly, I was even further away – on holidays down in Spain – on the day the match was played in August of that year.  It was an All-Ireland semi-final that the county expected to win – having acquitted ourselves well in the final three years prior to that – but which we undoubtedly deserved to lose, as we only managed to score a single point from play in the second half while Donegal shot a total of 17 wides but still finished four points ahead of us.

6 thoughts on “Fifty years of playing Donegal

  1. based on that my forecast for FaceTheBall for a Mayo win seems to be seriously misplaced . But the heart sometimes has to rule the head so am sticking with it despite all the evidence to the contrary.
    And speaking of odds I see PaddyPower aslo supports the case for Donegal as they are ticked as favourites at 11-8 ‘on’ and 15-2 the draw. From your stats WJ I see the last draw was in 24 years ago in 1985 so what are the chances of another one next Saturday ? Can’t bring myself to predict a draw on FaceTheBall either though !!

  2. seeing as I somehow managed to head the leaderboard on FacetheBall after week 1 I may as well try and focus a bit on week 2!!!

    What’s the odds on a mayo victory on PP.Com?? I presume if Donegal 8/11, we are 11/8??

  3. I think we could be struggling – even when we went up there with our tails well up back in 1985, we were lucky to come away with a draw. Home advantage and the likelihood that we’ll have a small enough support there (given that it’s on a Saturday afternoon) both point towards a home win. That said, Donegal got well hammered down in Kerry in their opening match so they’re in the same camp as we are.

  4. 11/8 it is, Mick. Not trying to put you off your stride or anything but that’s not a ringing endorsement for the Herrin Gutters from Paddy Power. We were 8/15 with them to beat Derry and look what happened there …

  5. yeah, not exactly “fill your boots” prices at all….

    I wonder does anyone really look at pricing up these matches properly…8/15 for us to beat Derry on the first day of the league after a bad 2008 and an indifferent start to 2009 is a stupid price…..still you never seebookies with empty bags of cash either!

  6. I’ve often felt there’s money to be made out of betting on league matches for that reason but, having said that, I haven’t had much luck on the few times I’ve tried to turn that theory into practice!

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