The Best XV I have Played Against: Stephen Coyle

Stephen Coyle has had a long and fruitful senior career with St Michael’s and helped his club move up through the ranks.

Coyle has played for St Michael’s for more than twenty years, and was a reliable forward as the Cresslough/Dunfanaghy men established themselves as one of the top teams in the county.

Coyle went up against some top quality players over the course of his career and has this week picked the best fifteen he has faced.

Paul Durcan (Four Masters)


Paul is big lad and is very laid back and nothing fazed him too much. He controlled the square and is a very good shot stopper. He led the way with regards to kick-outs in Donegal football and was very accurate from the tee.

Frank McGlynn (Glenfin)

We played Glenfin quite a bit in the early 2000’s and Frank was their main man. Frank has the ability to get on the ball on his own 13 metre line and weave his way up the field and clip the ball over the bar at the other end. He is great athlete, has great balance, a great passer of the ball, and could play in any position.

Frank McGlynn.

Neil McGee (Gaoth Dobhair)

Number three was a close call between Paddy Campbell of Glenties and Neil. Paddy was a solid full back and was the backbone of the Glenties team in the 2000’s, but Neil has raised the bar again as a full-back. Good in the air, great man marker, electric pace, and plays on the edge.

Eamon McGee (Gaoth Dobhair)


Eamon is a cool character. Doesn’t get fazed too easily. Came up against Eamon a good few times now and had some good battles over the years. He has great timing in the tackle, quick turn of pace, good in the air, and an excellent man maker.

Eoin Waide (Naomh Conaill)

Eoin was wing back for Glenties and I played a lot at wing forward and we went toe-to-toe a good few times and you had to bring your A game when up against Eoin and try keep him on the back foot otherwise you were in for a long shift. Eoin has a great engine, a good defender, and a very smart player on the ball. One game that stands out was the 2006 quarter-final in O’Donnell Park. Excellent end-to-end game.

Eoin Waide, Naomh Conaill in action against Lee McMonagle of St Eunan’s in last year’s county final

Karl Lacey (Four Masters)

Karl is a brilliant footballer. Excellent reader of the game and seems to be in the right place all of the time and can anticipate danger. Very comfortable on the ball and the go-to man for Four Masters.

Barry Dunnion (Four Masters)

Came up against Barry quite a bit in the 2000’s. Barry was unlucky with injuries later on in his career. He was a tight defender, full of energy and you knew you weren’t in for an easy day. He had great pace and if you got past him, he had the ability to get back at you.

Neil Gallagher (Glenswilly)

Played against ‘Big Neil’ a lot over the years and had some great battles. When we played Glenswilly there was never to much between us on the scoreboard and Neil was the kingpin in the middle of the park for Glenswilly, everything went through him. Great catcher and kick passer of the ball.

Neil Gallagher

Kevin Rafferty (St Eunan’s)

For a big man, Kevin had all the skills and made the game look easy. He was strong, good in the air, had two good feet and could take a score. Kevin was a key man for St Eunan’s and was an influential player in the three in-a-row team.

Rory Kavanagh (St Eunan’s)

Rory is an exceptional footballer and once McGuiness got a hold of him he excelled and was unlucky not to get an All Star in 2012. He is a key player in the St Eunan’s set up and has all the skills to back it up. He was vital in that St Eunan’s three in-a-row team too.

Rory Kavanagh.

Michael Hegarty (Kilcar)

Michael has made Kilcar tick over the last twenty seasons. An exceptional player, very intelligent. He has the ability to see a pass and deliver it, that most other players wouldn’t even see. Unlucky not to win more with Donegal.

Ryan McHugh (Kilcar)

Played against Ryan a few times and there are days that he is unmarkable over sixty minutes. One of his runs can be game changing with the ball normally ending up in the net.

Michael Murphy (Glenswilly)

First time I played against Michael was the 2006 quarter-final in O’Donnell Park. I think he just turned 17 and he certainly didn’t look out of place and kicked three points at his leisure. We had some great battles with Glenswilly over the years and Michael led the way for Glenswilly.

Brendan Devenney (St Eunan’s)

Brendan was a quality player. He had pace, strength, skill and when he was in form he was very hard to handle. Played St Eunan’s quite a bit in the mid to late 2000’s and Brendan was the focal point of their attack.

Brendan Devenney in action for St Eunan’s

Seamie ‘Coshia’ Friel (Gaeil Fhánada)

I played against Seamie a lot in the early noughties and he was great at winning his own ball and could also finish. A constant threat. A good man to have a pint with after too.

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