The Best XV I have Played Against: Seaghan Mac Laifeartaigh

Seaghan Mac Laifeartaigh enjoyed a long and fruitful career with his club Downings.

He represented Donegal at underage level, while he also featured in the Sigerson Cup, and played football in Chicago for a summer with Padraig Pearses.

Mac Laifeartaigh came up against some top quality players over the last 25 years, and has this week picked the best fifteen he has faced, with honourable mentions for Darran Nash (Milford), Brian McLaughlin (St Michael’s), Paul McGonigle (Buncrana), Seamie ‘Coshia’ Friel (Gaeil Fhánada) and Owenie McGarvey (Naomh Muire).

Gerard Crossan (Carndonagh)


Gerard was a great goalkeeper. I would have played with him in the county minors and against him for Carn. He was up with Derry City for a while too. He could boom the ball down the field seventy or eighty metres not unlike Paul Durcan. A super goalkeeper.

Eamon McGee (Gaoth Dobhair)

I would have played against Eamon in a few Gaeltacht games and you could just see how good he was on the ball. Now he wasn’t up against a pile but he cruised through the match, and for all that people say about him, he was very quiet against us too.

Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee.

Paddy Christie (Ballymun Kickhams)

I was in the same class with Paddy at St Pat’s and we would have played together for the college. We also had a Dochas Éireann team that played in the Dublin Senior Championship, and we came up against Ballymun Kickhams. Paddy obviously had to play for the club, and one of our mentors came up with the bright idea of putting me up against him. I got an absolute lesson.

Peter McGinley (Killybegs)


I would have played a good bit of underage football against Peter and he was a stylish player. He was a tough corner-back but he could play plenty as well and was very happy on the ball.

Peter McGinley in action for Donegal

Damien Diver (Ardara)

We played Ardara in the Championship in 1994 and I was very unlucky to be wing-forward and up against Damien Diver. He covered every blade of grass and I think he scored 2-1. We only managed something like four points. It wasn’t long before he was making a name for himself with the county.

Paddy McConigley (Gaeil Fhánada)

Paddy was a great footballer and he was hard as nails. If you got past him once you had to make it count because you wouldn’t get past him a second time. He was a real leader for Fanad down through the years.

Paddy McConigley

Sean McEwen (St Eunan’s)

I would have played a lot against Sean when I was younger when PCC Falcarragh met St Eunan’s College and when Downings played St Eunan’s. I also went up against him in the Sigerson Cup for Coleraine when he played with Queen’s. Sean was a top class player and a driving force for every team he was with.

Neil Gallagher (Glenswilly)

It’s hard to look past Big Neil. For a long time in this county he was underrated, but not by anyone that played against him. I remember one day in the Intermediate Championship in Termon, he put in a power display that would have matched that day against Cork in Croke Park.

Neil Gallagher

Gregory McCartan (Down)

I played against Gregory when he was with Wolfe Tones out in Chicago. The 13-a-side game really suited him and he was able to glide across the pitch and nobody could get near him.

Odhrán Mac Niallais (Gaoth Dobhair)

I only played against Odhrán once or twice but he made everything look effortless. The class was oozing out of him on the pitch, and he could see things that other players simply couldn’t.

Odhrán Mac Niallais

Dara Ó Cinnéide (Tralee IT)

Tralee IT came up to Coleraine in the Sigerson in 1997 and they had a star-studded team. But Dara Ó Cinnéide was one man that stood out for me as he ran the show. He was great craic at the party afterwards too.

Brian Dooher (Tyrone)

I would have played against Brian Dooher when I was a minor with Donegal. He never stopped running and he could go all day. He wanted to win every ball and every game.

Brendan Devenney (Naomh Colmcille)

I would have played a lot against Devenney at underage when he was playing for Newtown. We had many great battles with them but Devenney was hard to handle.

Graham Geraghty (Clann na nGael)

I went up against Graham Geraghty a few times in the Gaeltacht with Clann na nGael. Much like myself, he was coming towards the end of his career then, but he was so strong with the ball and made it count when he had it.

Mike Frank Russell (Tralee IT)

Mike Frank was another member of that class Tralee team and he scored 2-4 or 2-5 that day we played them. He had it all and we couldn’t get near him.

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