The Donegal County Board (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste Dhún na nGall) or Donegal GAA is one of 32 county boards of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland, and is responsible for the administration of Gaelic games in County Donegal.

Donegal GAA
Donegal GAA crest.png
Irish:Dún na nGall
Tír Chonaill
Dominant sport:Gaelic football
Ground(s):MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey
County colours:  Gold   Green
Website:County board website
County teams
NFL:Division 2
NHL:Division 2B
Football Championship:Sam Maguire Cup
Hurling Championship:Nicky Rackard Cup
Ladies' Gaelic football:Brendan Martin Cup
Camogie:O'Duffy Cup

The County Board is responsible for preparing the Donegal county teams in the various Gaelic sporting codes; football, hurling, camogie and handball.

The county football team was the third from the province of Ulster to win an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC), following Cavan and Down. It last won the All-Ireland SFC in 2012 and the Ulster Senior Football Championship in 2019. Donegal players comprised most of the 2012 All Stars Team of the Year, and the three nominations for the All Stars Footballer of the Year, ultimately won by Karl Lacey.[1] In addition, having been invited to assist the Celtic soccer team in Scotland, Donegal manager Jim McGuinness became the first Gaelic football inter-county manager to have been offered a role at a professional sports team abroad.[2] McGuinness's services have also been sought by Premier League soccer teams.[3]

According to a 2015 TUD study by Shane Mangan, Donegal had the largest playing population in Ulster, with 14,000 players at that time.[4]


The first Donegal County Board was formed in 1905.[5]

Charlie O'Donnell resigned as County Secretary for personal reasons 15 months into a seven-year contract in December 2009.[6]

When John McConnell was County Chairman[when?], he worked with Brian McEniff on plans for a divisional championship in the county; McConnell later resigned and this proposal did not go any further.[7]

Naul McCole was County Chairman in 1992 and was also a selector under Brian McEniff when Donegal won the 1992 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.[8]

Pat Conaghan was County Chairman in 1997.[9]

Brian McEniff was County Chairman in late 2002 when, unable to find a manager for the senior football team, he did it himself.[10][11]

P. J. McGowan completed five years as County Chairman in December 2012.[12] Sean Dunnion succeeded McGowan.[13] Aodh Ruadh clubman Mick McGrath — a former inter-county referee — succeeded Dunnion as the 43rd chair in 2017.[14]

County Treasurer Cieran Kelly resigned early from his role in July 2018, blaming County Chairman Mick McGrath for ensuring that he "wasn't welcome" at fundraising meetings.[15] The election for Kelly's successor was tied on votes 33 apiece so, at Croke Park's request, lots were drawn to pick Alan Boyd (formerly the Cultural and Irish Officer) over Brendan Kelly.[16]


Gaoth Dobhair club grounds in Machaire Gathlán


The county's most successful football clubs are Gaoth Dobhair and St Eunan's who have won the Donegal Senior Football Championship (SFC) on fifteen occasions each. Gaoth Dobhair also won the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship in 2018.

Aodh Ruadh of Ballyshannon are next in the Donegal SFC rankings, before a sizeable gap to fourth position. 14 clubs have won more than one title. Killybegs, though possessing only six SFCs, also appeared in the final of the 1991 Ulster Senior Club Football Championship, a feat never achieved by either St Eunan's or Aodh Ruadh.

A system of promotion and relegation operates between the SFC and the Donegal Intermediate Football Championship (IFC). Likewise, between the IFC and the Donegal Junior Football Championship (JFC).

The All-County Leagues are another competition for clubs. This had been divided into four divisions for many years but — because of the "split season" and the inability to play 18 rounds of games — from 2022, this was reduced to three, with 13 clubs in Division 1, 14 clubs in Division 2 and 13 clubs in Division 3.[17]

As of 2013, there were 40 clubs under the auspices of the Donegal County Board.[18][19] These range from Malin at the northernmost point of the county to Naomh Columba in the south, a round distance cited in 2020 media reports of c. 320 kilometres, with an estimated one-way time of more than two hours before roadworks were taken into account.[20][21]

County teamEdit

The county team came to the fore of Ulster football in the 1970s, winning its first Ulster Senior Football Championship in 1972. The win coincided with the county's first All Star—in the form of Brian McEniff—in the second year of the award's existence. A second provincial title followed for Donegal in 1974.

The county team won a third provincial title in 1983. Fourth and fifth titles followed in 1990 and 1992. They team later qualified for the 1992 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, where it defeated heavy favourites Dublin.

Donegal last won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 2012.[22] The team last won the Ulster Senior Football Championship in 2019.



Clubs contest the Donegal Senior Hurling Championship.

Burt and Setanta Hurling Club have an archrivalry.[23] They are the county's most prominent clubs in the sport.

County teamEdit

Donegal's first Ulster Senior Hurling Championship was won in 1906, its most recent in 1932.

In the 21st-century, Donegal won the 2011 Lory Meagher Cup.[24] The county then became the first to win the Nicky Rackard Cup on three occasions, achieving this feat in 2020 after earlier wins in 2013 and 2018.[25][26][27]

In 2019, following the 2018 Nicky Rackard win, the county made its debut in the Christy Ring Cup, the competition founded in place of the All-Ireland Senior B Hurling Championship.

Ladies' footballEdit

Donegal has a ladies' football team.

Dominic McGlinchey resigned as senior manager in 2009 and Hughie Molloy took over temporarily until the end of the season. .[28] Molloy was appointed new manager of the team in December 2012. Maxi Curran is now Donegal Senior Ladies Football Manager.[28]


Donegal competed in the Ulster Senior Championship from the 1930s, hosting Antrim in Letterkenny in 1945. They succeeded in fielding a league team in the 1980s, drawing on the groundwork at Loreto, Letterkenny which fielded successful colleges teams. The Pan Celtic games of 2006 rejuvenated camogie in Donegal and the county returned to competition in the Ulster Junior Championship in 2008.[29]

Under Camogie's National Development Plan 2010–2015, "Our Game, Our Passion",[30] it was announced that Donegal, Kerry, Mayo and Monaghan would receive a total of 14 new clubs by 2015.[31]


Several clubs in cities worldwide use the "Donegal" or "Tír Chonaill" name. These include:


Fr Seán Ó Gallchóir, the statistician, first compiled a twelve-page booklet in 1979 using his research into the newspaper archives of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal News and Derry Journal, which he personally gathered at their offices and compiled in scrapbooks. The Book of Donegal GAA Facts was first published in 1985. The eighth edition of the book launched in 2020. It is used by journalists wishing to verify information on Gaelic games in the county.[34]


  1. ^ "Donegal's Karl Lacey is named Gaelic Footballer of 2012". BBC Sport. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  2. ^ Moran, Seán (9 November 2012). "McGuinness move would be huge blow to Donegal". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 November 2012. Whereas the GAA has sustained a modest loss of players to the AFL over the years this is the first time that a top-rank inter-county manager has been offered a job in professional sport. McGuinness is unusual in the ranks of All-Ireland winning managers in that he has extensive academic qualifications in both sports science and sports psychology, in which he holds a masters degree.
  3. ^ "Donegal dismiss reports linking Jim McGuinness to Liverpool FC". RTÉ Sport. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  4. ^ O'Kane, Cahair (10 August 2021). "Kicking Out: At what point do we question urban investment?". The Irish News. It's a while back now but TUD lecturer Shane Mangan released figures in 2015 that showed the number of registered players in each county... Donegal, with the biggest playing population of the nine counties at almost 14,000 registered players, were 26th on the list for funding.
  5. ^ "Heroes of '92 allowed Donegal to remove psychological barrier". Sunday Independent. 9 October 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  6. ^ "Martin McHugh will try for a Central Council role again". BBC Sport. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  7. ^ Heaney, Paddy (25 November 2013). "The life of Brian". The Irish News. Retrieved 25 November 2013. When John McConnell resigned as chairman, the idea for a divisional championship was abandoned. But McEniff revealed that their plans had reached an advanced stage.
  8. ^ Foley, Alan (8 January 2009). "The heroes of '92 — Where are they now?". Donegal Democrat. Archived from the original on 18 December 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2009. After a quick word with county chairman and selector Naul McCole… McEniff made his move.
  9. ^ McNulty, Chris (22 September 2017). "Declan Bonner: It'll be 'all or nothing' for Donegal's 'half mad' new manager". Retrieved 22 September 2017. Anthony Molloy, Tom Connaghan[sic] and Pauric McShea all withdrew from the race and Pat Conaghan, the then County Chairman, informed Bonner at 9.29pm [on 11 August 1997] that he was the new Donegal manager.
  10. ^ Bogue, Declan (9 May 2020). "My inspirational quartet that make up Ulster GAA's Mount Rushmore". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  11. ^ McNulty, Chris (15 September 2017). "Lifetime Achievement award for Brian McEniff". Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  12. ^ McNulty, Chris (19 October 2012). "Molloy considers the top job". Donegal News. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Donegal Chairman Sean Dunnion on County Convention". Highland Radio. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  14. ^ McNulty, Chris (7 December 2017). "McGrath set for the Chair at low-key Donegal GAA Convention". Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  15. ^ Keys, Colm (30 August 2018). "Kelly quit Donegal because he felt unwelcome". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Alan Boyd is the new Donegal County Board Treasurer". Highland Radio. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  17. ^ Bonner, Declan (31 March 2022). "All focus now on April 24". Donegal News. p. 71. For the first time in a long time we will only have three divisions for first teams once again. The four tiers worked quite well down through the years but with the split season now in play, there just isn't the time to get 18 rounds of fixtures played. There are 13 teams in Division 1 and Division 3, and 14 in the second tier.
  18. ^ Comack, Tom (7 September 2010). "County Board Briefs". Donegal Democrat. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2010. Thirteen of the county's 40 clubs still do not have their registration paid and they were urged to do as a matter of urgency after the matter was raised by Dungloe delegate, Aideen Gillen, who asked should these clubs be competing in competitions. However, treasurer Grace Boyle stated that while the clubs do not have the registration paid they are registered with Croke Park.
  19. ^ McNulty, Chris (7 March 2013). "Clubs pledge €81,000 funding". Donegal News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. Donegal's forty GAA clubs have committed to contributing €81,000 to the county's coffers by August 1st to assist in a number of projects, not least the ongoing development work at Sean MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey.
  20. ^ Craig, Frank (3 September 2020). "Naomh Columba have the edge". Donegal News. p. 58. Meanwhile, as visitors Malin prepare to make the long trek south, boss Robert Farren says that for once, that journey won't feel as arduous… And there is a renewed enthusiasm within all squads — even ones with a close to 320km round trip to make on Sunday.
  21. ^ Bonner, Declan (3 September 2020). "No surprises are expected in senior quarter-finals". Donegal News. p. 63. The final quarter-final in the Intermediate sees Malin travel to Naomh Columba and by God is that some journey. Someone was telling me that it will take around two hours and 15 minutes to make that trip one way, and with road works it could taken[sic] even longer.
  22. ^ Jackson, Lyle (23 September 2012). "Donegal 2–11 0–13 Mayo". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  23. ^ Ferry, Ryan (1 October 2020). "Setanta hurlers keen to go back-to-back". Donegal News. p. 61. Setanta have yet to be beaten this year, and they were very impressive in the group stages as they secured top spot. They followed that up with a 3–18 to 2–11 semi-final win over arch[sic] rivals Burt…
  24. ^ "Donegal thriller at Croke Park". Inishowen News. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  25. ^ "Donegal goal burst enough to secure Nicky Rackard glory". RTÉ Sport. 22 November 2020.
  26. ^ "Nicky Rackard Cup final: to Donegal the spoils". Hogan Stand. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Donegal win the Nicky Rackard Cup for the first time since 2013". Irish Independent. 23 June 2018.
  28. ^ a b McNulty, Chris (7 December 2012). "Hughie Molloy appointed Ladies manager". Donegal News. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  29. ^ "Donegal v Tyrone preview on". April 2008.
  30. ^ "Final goal for camogie". Irish Independent. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  31. ^ National Development Plan 2010–2015, Our Game, Our Passion information page on Archived 1 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine, pdf download (778k) from download site Archived 16 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Donegal Boston come of age". Hogan Stand. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  33. ^ "Glasgow GAA club Tir Conaill Harps set their sights on 2021". Donegal News. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  34. ^ McNulty, Chris (30 July 2020). "Get your GAA facts right — Fr Seán launches new edition of invaluable book". Retrieved 30 July 2020.

External linksEdit

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