Aidan McAteer enjoyed a long and fruitful career with his club Gaeil Fhánada, while he has also represented Donegal at underage level.
He came up against some top quality players over the last twenty years, and has this week picked the best fifteen he has faced, with honourable mentions for Johnny McCafferty (Termon), Odhran Doherty (Buncrana), and Kevin McGlynn (Glenfin) who just missed out.
Pauric O’Donnell (Naomh Columba)
Pauric was a brilliant goalkeeper and ahead of his time. He played football for UCD and developed a lot with them. He was chipping kick-outs over your head long before other goalkeepers started doing it.
Michael Lynch (Cloughaneely)
Michael marked me from when I was ten years old until I was 35 and we had many big battles over the years. He was always a tough nut but a sound man.
Michael Maguire (Naomh Columba)
He moved out the field in later years, but when Michael first came through he played a lot at full-back, and he was driving out from the back and making off the ball runs when most full-backs just stayed at home. He was a strong man and could dictate a game.
Patrick Gallagher (Kilcar)
I played with Patrick for a long time at underage level and he was a real unassuming character. He never went in for any banter or dirt, he just played the game and I could never get the better of him.
James Keaney (Bundoran)
We played against Bundoran in two Intermediate finals. James marked me in the ’07 final and I didn’t get a kick, and he marked Seamie ‘Coshia’ (Friel) in the 2009 final. He was always a good fit defender, who was decent on the ball, and a leader on and off the pitch for Bundoran.
Frank McGlynn (Glenfin)
When I would have played against Glenfin in my mid-twenties, Frank was a good steady player, but ten years later, he was one of the best wing backs in the country. He really developed as a player, and he always delivered for Glenfin. When he came charging through the middle there was nothing you could do but foul him. It was a good job the black card wasn’t in back then because there wouldn’t have been a Fanad man left on the pitch.
Kevin Cassidy (Gaoth Dobhair)
I would have played county underage with Kevin when he was a forward, but he really blossomed when he went back the pitch. He’s not that tall but he was a monster when he played for Gaoth Dobhair, and he had a lot of success with them. I also remember in 2012 when he was getting a lot of heat, he came down to Fanad to take a training session with our Under 14’s which was really good of him.
Kevin Hughes (Tyrone)
I would have come up against the golden generation of Tyrone players coming through, the likes of Cormac McAnallen and Brian McGuigan and those boys, but the best of the lot at that time was Kevin Hughes. We really struggled to get the better of them and Kevin was one of the main reasons. He was built like a really strong man when he was 16 and he would dominate games.
Christy Toye (St Michael’s)
Christy is best known as a half-forward but he usually played at midfield for St Michael’s and he was very hard to stop when he got going, and he was accurate in front of the posts too. He had a great relationship with Colm McFadden, and while we could hold most of the other St Michael’s players, those two would wreck us.
Brian Roper (Aodh Ruadh)
Roper was always hard to handle. He was deceivingly strong and very skilful too. We would usually try three or four markers on him when we played Aodh Ruadh. It didn’t matter what abuse you threw at him either, he would take it on the chin and carry on.
Michael Hegarty (Kilcar)
Michael Hegarty is possibly the most graceful footballer to come out of Donegal in the last twenty years. He could dictate a game, and you had no hope against him down in Towney, where he was usually at his best.
Ryan Bradley (Buncrana)
We had a few big battles with Buncrana, and we won our fair share and they won their fair share. But it started to turn their way when they brought through a group of good young fellas and Ryan Bradley was the best of them. I marked him when he was 17 and he was well able to handle himself even then. I remember saying after the match, that this boy is the real McCoy.
Stephen Griffin (St Naul’s)
Stephen was unlucky that it didn’t really work out for him with the county, but he has been one of the top forwards in Donegal club football for a long time now, and has always performed for St Naul’s. He’s a big club man too, and he would have been coaching underage teams from his early twenties.
Colm McFadden (St Michael’s)
Colm was a class act and we always had trouble with him. We played St Michael’s in the championship in 2010 and he caused us serious bother in Fanad. We decided to double mark him for the second leg and I played in front, but he just said I’m going to score a goal when I get the ball, and that’s what he did! He racked up a big tally which shows how good I was at stopping him.
John Paul Gallagher (Cloughaneely)
We had big battles with Cloughaneely from Under 10 to senior football, and John Paul Gallagher broke our hearts on many occasions. He was in and around the county squad when he was 18 but a bad knee injury curtailed his career. In saying that, he still was able to play in the Intermediate final in ’06 when they beat us after two replays.