St. Michael’s Host Successful Dinner Dance
The Shandon Hotel was the setting on Saturday night last for the annual Dinner Dance of St. Michael’s GAA Club. During the course of the evening as well as the usual Club Awards three Stalwarts of the Club were also rewarded for their hard work over the years. Michael McColgan and Noel Toye were inducted into the St. Michael’s Hall of Fame whilst Seamus Sweeney received the Overseas Award. The MC for the evening was the recently appointed Chairman of St. Michael’s Liam McElhinney, who welcomed everyone to the Dance, he thanked the Shandon Hotel for all their help and he paid tribute to all the award winners and also Michael Kelly and his team for the huge effort with the senior team over the two years and also Neil McGinley who had stepped down as Chairman after two years. He thanked Ann Marie Kelly for her continued efficient secretarial work and to Brian Dolan for keeping the finances in a healthy state and to all the other members of the hard working committee for their continued support. Danny Lafferty spoke about the career of Michael and Noel who were inducted into the St. Michael’s Hall of Fame. A minutes silence was also held on the night for two recently deceased club members and sponsors Aiden Durning and Denis Harley. The following awards were then presented: Most Improved Reserve Player Kyle McGarvey presented by Shaun Langan, Reserve Player of the Year Chris McElhinney presented by Danny Martin Lafferty, Young Player of the Year Jamie Hunter presented by Margaret Ann O’Reilly. Senior Player of the Year Daniel McLaughlin presented by Neil McGinley, Clubperson of the Year Neil McGinley presented by Edward Boyle.
The following Players were also honoured for representing the club at County Level during the year. Martin McElhinney who earlier in the week had made his 100th appearance for Donegal was given a presentation by Danny Langan, Michael Langan fresh from his Man of the Match performance against Cavan received an award from Brian McGinley, Michael Kelly picked up an award on behalf of County under 20 player Colin McFadden from Main Club Sponsor Lorcan Roarty. An award was also made to Mark Anthony McGinley who was not present. Carlos O’Reilly was presented an award from Club Secretary Ann Marie Kelly for being part of the Buncranna Cup team. Marcella Dolan received an award from Patricia Kelly for being part of the Donegal Under 15 Ladies Team who won the 2018 Ulster Championship.
There was also an award for County Senior Player Bridget Gallagher who was not present on the night.
Then there followed the Hall of Fame Inductions. Michael McColgan was presented with his award by Christy Toye and Noel Toye was Presented with his award by Michael Langan. Seamus Sweeney received the Overseas Award from Martin McElhinney.
Speaking following the inductions Danny Lafferty who has known Michael and Noel all his life at the club said that in the case of Michael McColgan he could probably write at least 10 chapters on his time at St. Michael’s and Noel Toye at least 20 although some of these might be unprintable! He said that both men had given a lifetime of work both as players and administrators, coaches, managers and other jobs that required their attention over a long period of years.
Neither of them had ever turned down a job if it was for the betterment of St. Michael’s as regards underage or adult teams, structures within the club, improving the facilities or general day to day activities. He said that he was personally delighted to see Michael and Noel after many years of loyalty, dedication, perseverance, integrity and helping to pursue the aims of St. Michael’s rewarded by their own people.
Danny said that the first time that he had seen Michael McColgan play was in 1960. Michael had emigrated to Manchester as a young man and flew home to play in a county semi final for Creeslough against Lifford in O’Donnell Park. Tony Langan and Columba O’Donnell were in charge of the team at that time. He also returned home in 1961 to play against Castlefin in the County semi final and among the other players there that day were Tony Langan, Mick Hudai McGinley, Neil McGinley and Charlie Barney McGinley. Michael had played constantly for St. Michael’s during the 1960’s 1970’s and into the early 1980’s. He was an ever present and his prime position was at full back where he was the master of all he surveyed. Michael got married in the mid 1960’s and proceeded to raise a fine family and he and his wife Alice another great St. Michael’s supporter attended all St. Michael’s and Donegal games. Michael also played senior with Na Piarsiagh an amalgamation between St. Michael’s and Cloughaneely at Senior level in the 1970’s and won a county Junior Title with St. Michael’s in 1983 under Andy Hanlon. He also played for Donegal between 1969 tom 1971 and he was the pioneer for all St. Michael’s Club players who have pulled on the Green and Gold Jersey ever since. Danny then went on to outline Michael’s involvement with the club since hanging up his boots including as a coach and administrator and Manager including leading St. Michael’s to an Ireland Gaeltacht final in Cork in 1998 and his role in the fundraising and purchasing of the new pitch and dressing rooms and clubhouse at the bridge. In conclusion Danny asked for and got a standing ovation for Michael and his wife Alice.
Danny said that Noel Toye had played for St. Michael’s in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was a no nonscience player of great ability. He was always determined to win games. During the 1970’s he had played for many managers including Neil McGinley, Liam Ferry, Andy Hanlon and Brian McGinley to name but a few. He played in a few county semi finals and finals including a final loss to Kilcar in 1973 on a day that the club chairman died on the sideline and Brian McGinley suffered a broken collarbone. Then Noel emigrated to London for a few years during which he played with Tirconaill Gaels and St. Josephs before coming home to end his career with St. Michael’s in the 1980’s. He got married to Rose and they both became great supporters of club and county and went on to raise a family Christy and Treasa.
Noel and Colm McFadden got involved in the underage structure of the club and with the help of others took a very active part in setting up the minor board in a business like manner and establishment of the Parish League which is still being used by clubs inside and outside of Donegal as the template for underage development. Our underage teams began to play at a higher level and to compete and win. Noel’s advice also played a part in the club winning a second junior title in 1992 and an Intermediate title in 2003 and bringing the club through to the senior ranks. Noel and Rose are also immensely proud of their son Christy and his many achievements. Danny said that he has been incredibly lucky to have known, worked with and learned from Noel and found his knowledge of the GAA incredible and said he was a very worthy recipient of the Hall of Fame award.
He finished by asking for and getting a round of applause and standing ovation for Noel and his wife Rose.
Club Chairman Liam McElhinney praised Seamus Sweeney for the great work that he has done for the GAA and the Irish community in Philadelphia and said that he was lucky enough to witness this first had last year when his team won the All American Championship and said that the way Seamus looked after the team members and also all the young Irish out there is incredible and said that he was very worthy recipient of the overseas award.
At the dinner dance St. Michael’s were delighted to have launched their club website www.clgnaomhmicheal.
After the formalities were over those present danced to the music of Conor O’Donnell.
Please click here for all the photos from the Dinner Dance. https://www.clgnaomhmicheal.com/dinner-dance-january-2019/