first_imgLeo is surrounded by family and good friends at St Catherine’s clubhouse during his emotional return.There were tears shed and stories told when the last surviving member of the Killybegs soccer team which played in the FAI Junior Cup final against Drumcondra in 1939 made an emotional visit to the St Catherine’s Football Club clubhouse.The visit, on the eve of Leo McGinley’s 98th birthday, was organised by his nephew, Sean Mc Ginley, while holidaying in his native Kilcar.Accompanied by his son, John and daughter, Antoinette, he was greeted by officers and members of the club and by the sons, daughters and grand-children of his former club-mates from those far off days. Leo with his family.Leo has lived most of his life in Ballysheedy, Co Limerick, where he ran his own business.Leo, played right-half forward for Killybegs Emeralds, as the team was then known, But he recalled: “That was my position but I could shift over to the left, either, because I had two good feet.”He added: “I remember the last game I played, I was coming off the field when two fellows came down beside me and asked me was I Leo McGinley. I said I was and they asked me would I be interested in going over to England for a trial with Southend United.”He smiled as he remembered what he replied to their offer: “I told them that I wasn’t a soccer player at all; I was a Gaelic player.” The offer came to nothing, anyway, as World War II broke out shortly afterwards. “Then it was all over the papers that if any Irish fellow wanted, he could go over to England to work and that he wouldn’t be called up. Myself and a mate of mine, John Byrne, went to England and worked all through the war.”During his time there, Leo worked as a machine operator in Scotland, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Farnborough, Reading. Nottingham and Derby County. “I was there nine years”, he said, “and I came home every year except one year there was no boat when the War was on.”But it was Limerick he came back to after his time in Britain. “They had a GAA Club in Nottingham when I was there and I used to play. I was on the pitch one day when two big fellows came up to me and asked me would I like to go back to Ireland, driving a machine for them. I said I would. They were the Sheehy brothers and they had a business in Limerick.”However, Leo only stayed 18 months with them. “I found out that what I could do for them I could do for myself, so I bought a machine of my own and set up my own business.”It was while staying in digs in Limerick at that time that Leo met Mary Consodine. The couple married and had eight children. Mary died eight years ago. The children are Bernadette, now living in Brighton; Mary, in Cork; Eamonn and Colette, both living in Dublin, Geraldine, Claire, John and Antoinette, all in Limerick. Leo was greeted by several people who were related to the team mates he played with 76 years ago, including three sisters of the late Peadar Molloy, Moira Mallon, Esther and Mary Goretti, whose father, Willie Joe Molloy, purchased the field which is still the home ground of the club, Eithne White, whose father, Joe Cunningham was chairman of the club when Leo McGinley played and whose grand-son, Daniel Breslin, is currently first team manager.Other well-wishers included Joey Murrin, whose father played with Leo, and who himself was a player and referee, Brian McGilloway and Aideen Morrow, whose father, John McGilloway, played on the 1939 team, and several Dorrians, whose family have been stalwarts of the club since its foundation.St Catherine’s FC club chairman, Martin Murrin, presented Leo with a club jersey, scarf and hat, as a memento of his visit, along with a copy of the book, “St Catherine’s FC – A Celebration of 100 Years of Soccer in Killybegs”, which was published by the club in 1996. He was also presented with a number of framed photographs of the famous 1939 team.EMOTIONAL RETURN BY LAST SURVIVING MEMBER OF FAMOUS DONEGAL TEAM was last modified: August 10th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:KillybegsLeo McGinleySt Catherineslast_img

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