Paddy McDaid was one of the top strikers in Donegal football circles during his playing days.
He had an excellent career playing for more than two decades and lined out for Letterkenny Rovers, Fanad United, Finn Harps, Swilly Rovers, Limavady United, as well as for Cleveland State University team and the Irish Schoolboys team.
McDaid has come up against some top quality players, and this week has picked the best 11 (3-1-4-2) he faced.
Shay Given (St Columba’s, Stranorlar)
I would have rated Darran Nash very highly but the best goalkeeper I came up against was Shay Given. I would have come up against him in schools football when he was with St Columba’s and I just remember the agility he had was incredible. Even then you could see the star quality he had.
Gary Kelly (Home Farm)
We had a great run with Letterkenny Rovers one year and got to the semi-finals of the FAI Under 17 Cup. We ended up losing to a class Home Farm who went over 200 games unbeaten or something like that. They had Graham Kavanagh and Gary Kelly, who actually raced clear to score their second goal that day. I also played against him at senior level when he was at Home Farm and he was rapid.
Declan Boyle (St Catherine’s and Finn Harps)
I would have played underage against Declan as well and he was always a very strong player.. I remember playing once against him for Limavady and scoring an early goal, but Declan made sure I didn’t get a kick of it after that. He was a really solid centre half and had real presence.
Tony Sanneh (Milwaukee Panthers)
I went over to America and played with Cleveland for a few years and we were beat one day 6-2 by Milwaukee and Tony Sanneh scored a few and was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He was big, strong and athletic, and he really stood out to me. Years later, I was watching the 2002 World Cup and there he was playing for the US.
Anthony Gorman (Linfield)
When I was growing up, the best two players about the town were Anthony Gorman and Kyle Maloney who were both a few years older than me and they were role models for everyone else. Anthony had the ability, the temperament and the passion. I played against him one day for Limavady when he was Linfield and they won 1-0. Anthony scored the winner and it was a cracker – he didn’t do tap-ins.
Gary Beckett (Derry City)
When I was with Fanad, we played Derry a few times in the League Cup and Gary Beckett always stood out for me. He was a very silky player who could create something out of nothing. I’ll give him the nod just above Gary Heaney and Marty Doc who were also quality players.
Mike Sweeney (Cleveland Crunch)
We played a local team in Cleveland one day, and I remember all the talk beforehand was about Mike Sweeney who had played for Canada in the 1986 World Cup. He was probably past his best by then but he lived up to the billing. He looked like Paul Scholes and played like him too. A phenomenal footballer.
Kenny Harkin (Fanad United)
I would have played a bit with ‘King Kenny’ and against him for Fanad, and you could be sure you were in for a tough day if he was in the other team. He could control a game from start to finish and was always a threat to score a few too. Kenny won everything with Fanad, but I definitely think he could have had a long career in the League of Ireland too.
Gregory Kearney (Derry City)
I was only about 17 when I came on for Harps one day against Derry at the Brandywell. I played on the wing and my job for 15 or 20 minutes was to chase after Gregory Kearney and he ran me ragged. He had a brilliant first touch and great balance on the ball. Sadly he passed away a few years ago.
Liam Coyle (Derry City).
Liam Coyle really was your classic number nine. He was a great goalscorer and had huge natural ability. He was always very effective. You could learn a lot from watching Liam, and generally when we played Derry, we were just watching them play it around us!
Con McLaughlin (Finn Harps and Milford United)
I came up against a lot of good strikers but Con McLaughlin always stood out. He would have been at the latter part of his career when I played against him, but for not an overly big man, he had huge power, and it was a struggle against him. There was one day when I was playing for Rovers and scored a couple to put us 4-2 up against Milford. Con was probably in his forties by then but he scored a hat-trick in the last ten minutes to win the game for Milford.