Cloughaneely also staged the 1998 finals when the hosts lost out narrowly to fellow Donegal club, Ardara, in the final. Had they won, it would have been the third time in six years Cloughaneely lifted the Senior All-Ireland Gaeltacht crown, having claimed the 1992 and 1993 titles.
“I played myself against Ardara (in ‘98) so it would be nice if we could go one step further this time,” current manager Joe McGarvey said this week.
“That was a really tight game and I think only a point separated the sides at the end of extra-time. Our aim now is to win it for a third time and it would be nice to do that on our own patch.”
With all eyes on Falcarragh this weekend, McGarvey believes the northwest parish is set to enjoy a stellar weekend, one that wouldn’t have come to pass had it not been for the monumental effort of everyone involved with the club.
“There’s been plenty of activity all through the parish, everybody has been getting things ready and we’re all looking forward to the weekend now.
“It looks like the weather will be good to us so that will help bring out a large crowd; I think they are estimating between 10 to 15,000 to be here over the course of the weekend. It will be good for the businesses like B & B’s, hotels, the local shops and the pubs.
“Two or three years ago it was awarded to us but the work only really began before Christmas. We had a €50,000 grant for the fence around the field but that was all that was given to us.
“We totally renovated the dressing rooms, put in disabled and public toilets and received no help for that. It’s been a great effort from everybody involved; giving up their own time to volunteer and make sure we got everything completed.”
McGarvey, who guided his side back into Division One following back-to-back promotions, has been fairly content with his side’s form since a return to the top tier, where they have picked up two wins, two defeats and two draws.
“I’m happy enough with the form, we had a free weekend last weekend so it gave anybody who might have been carrying any knocks the chance to rest up.
“Thankfully we have a fully fit squad now for the weekend. In fact, we had 40 boys down at training during the week but that might have had something to do with the TG4 camera’s being there,” joked McGarvey.
Cloughaneely have already been handed a boost in that they have been given a bye right into the semi-finals, where they will await the challenge of either reigning champions Belmullet from Mayo or Cork kingpins Naomh Aban.
“Both sides will be very strong, Belmullet are coming up looking to defend their All-Ireland title but the Cork side will be just as strong.