Buncrana Hearts' McAlinden Cup heroes reunited 50 years on

MEMBERS OF the successful Buncrana Hearts team who won the McAlinden Cup 50 years ago were reunited at Castle Park on the anniversary of their triumph last Sunday to reminisce about the glory days as they got their hands on the Derry & District F.A. trophy once more.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 2:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 2:16 pm
The Buncrana Hearts team who completed the D&D double when winning the Doyle Cup in 1971.

On May 23rd 1971, the Inishowen team netted a dramatic goal in the dying seconds of the Blue Riband Cup showpiece against Foyle Harps to take the most coveted prize in D&D football back to Donegal.

Hearts had missed a penalty kick during the early stages of the match before Foyle Harps centre half Harry McGeehan struck the woodwork from 15 yards. In the final 20 minutes Hearts produced the best football of the match and inside-right Peter Murphy fastened on to a long ball up the middle, beat a Harps defender and hit a fine shot which went off an upright into the net.

Team captain Shaun Murphy recalls travelling to Brandywell Stadium for the match to play hot favourites, Harps, in buoyant mood after defeating an excellent Carn FC side 6-1 in the semi-finals.

Buncrana Hearts team members from 1971 who won the McAlinden Cup and Doyle Cup double pictured with the D&D blue riband trophy 50 years on. Included in the picture are Junior Armour, Mickey Donaghey, Frankie Fletcher (Club President), Billy Porter, Jim Caldwell, Shaun Murphy (Captain), Canice Fletcher and Jim McConnell (Manager)

”I couldn’t believe it was that long ago, time goes by so quickly,” said Murphy on the 50th anniversary of their achievement.

Manager Jim McConnell had a good mixture of youth and experience having promoted the likes of John Fullerton, Jim Caldwell, Canice Fletcher, Mickey McLaughlin and Mickey Donaghey from a very good U18 side to complement the experience of Shaun Murphy, Junior Armour, Paddy McGee, Jonny Davis and the mercurial Noel McFadden.

The famous win sparked wild celebrations in the town and Junior Armour still recalls the trip home: “The queue at the border was massive as it was around the time of the Troubles and we were getting a bit p**sed off as we just wanted to get back to the Atlantic Bar for a pint,” he said.

The following Sunday the lads once again set off to The Brandywell this time to play A.O.H in the Doyle Cup. Buncrana were slight favourites this time around and in another close affair goals from Paddy McGee and a cracking strike from John Fullerton clinched a memorable ‘double’.

Buncrana Hearts forward John Fullerton (on left) scoring his side’s second and winning goal in the Doyle Cup final at Brandywell on Sunday. A.O.H players Herbie Wade and keeper Bosco McCaul are also in the picture.

"The manager starting me in that second game made all the difference,” smiles Mickey Donaghey which draws an outburst of laughter from his teammates. After the match Shaun Murphy was presented with the cup and the boys once again made their way back over the border to celebrate with family, friends and supporters.

A couple of months later, Hearts clinched a remarkable D&D ‘treble’ by lifting the McKinney Cup with a 2-1 victory over Oxford Utd to cap a wonderful and memorable season.

Buncrana Hearts F.C would like to thank Christy McGeehan and Willie Barrett from the Derry & District for a loan of the McAlinden Cup which is 100 years old this year. The club would also like to congratulate the Derry & District League who are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

McAlinden Cup winning manager Jim McConnell and Shaun Murphy (Captain).