100 not out for Derry & District F.A.'s McAlinden Cup
DERRY & District F.A secretary Willie Barrett was ‘delighted’ to reach the 100 milestone for the popular McAlinden Cup at Brandywell on Sunday and admitted he never believed the association would reach its centenary year.
“I never thought I’d be here to see this,” said Mr Barrett. “It was 1974 when I joined, nearly 50 years ago and now here we are.”
It’s been a hard slog in recent years as interest in playing Sunday morning football dwindled before the Covid pandemic compounded matters but Derry City and Strabane District Council and Derry City FC threw the association a lifeline when offering financial aid to ensure the 100th year celebrations went ahead.
“At the start when I came in I was running St Eugene’s and we had two teams in the D&D for years which was great. I’m still here after all those years. We’re the three amigos,” he laughed.
“Myself and Liam Smyth (fixtures secretary), Willie Barrett (chairman). Between the three of us I’m 74, Liam’s 72 and Jimbo is 84 so we’ve done our time.”
Christy McGeehan and Darren Smyth have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure its success this season and Mr Barrett is grateful that the milestone has been reached given the importance the league has played in providing a platform for some of the city’s best senior footballers.
“I found a handwritten note written by myself in 1987,” explained Mr Barrett. “Derry City had just joined the Irish League in 1975/76. This was the year after Derry City were playing a D&D select here at the Brandywell and there was £1,000 to be given to the D&D because they had supplied so many players to the Derry City team over the years. There were seven players who were playing for the D&D that day who went on to play for Derry City, Finn Harps and other senior teams.
"There were players like Harry McCourt and Liam Coyle was another of the names and his brother Derek. There were 18 players named and seven went on to play for Derry City or Finn Harps the next year so it shows you the tradition that goes way back to even then and continued on afterwards.
"We’re amazed at it. To run a competition that had seemingly come to an end and it happens to be the 100th, we wanted to make something good of it. We were delighted to get it played and with over 100 people here socially distanced to watch it was brilliant.”