The Best XV I have Played Against: Gerard McGrenra

Gerard McGrenra has had a long and fruitful senior career with Glenswilly, and is the proud owner of three Donegal senior football championship medals.

However, Glenswilly weren’t always at the top table during his career, and McGrenra’s sharp-shooting was one of the reasons they were able to climb up through the ranks.

He has been playing senior football for 31 years and intends to line out for the Glen’s third team once again in 2021.

McGrenra has faced some top quality players over the course of his career and has this week picked the best fifteen he has faced, with honourable mentions for Nigel Black (Milford), Sean Bonner (Na Rossa), and Christy Toye (St Michael’s).


Paul Callaghan (Burt)

Paul was a very solid goalkeeper. He was an old-school goalkeeper who was very strong in the air and came off his line quickly to close you down when taking a shot.

Brendan Rodden (St Michael’s)

We played St Michael’s in our first championship game in 2006 and I think I ended up with six points and everything I hit went over the bar. But for the second leg, Brendan Rodden marked me and I didn’t get a kick. Every day we played them after that he marked me and he was a sticky man to get away from.

Brendan Rodden.

Neil McGee (Gaoth Dobhair)

We had a relegation play-off against Gaoth Dobhair when I was slowing down a bit. I was put in at full-forward and Neil McGee left me black and blue and I was sore everywhere after the match. They don’t come any tougher than McGee.


Charlie Doherty (Naomh Muire)

Charlie wasn’t the biggest but he was quick and strong and aggressive. You got nothing easy against Charlie. Over the last few years I would have gone up against him at training for the masters, and if I saw Charlie in the corner, I would make my way over to the other side.

Martin Shovlin (Naomh Ultan)

Martin was always a tough man to go up against and he would keep going for the whole match. He was as hard as nails, but it was all left on the pitch, and all would be forgotten over a pint after the match.

Martin Shovlin

Shane Molloy (Killybegs)

I used to play centre half-forward for a bit, and I was quite happy to stay on the forty and pick up the handy ball. But then the new generation of defenders started to come through, and Shane Molloy was one of the best. He was always racing up the field and I hated the sight of him.

Sean ‘The Decent’ O’Donnell (Termon)

When ‘The Decent’ was at himself, he was one of the best attacking wing-backs about. If he had better discipline, he could have gone on to play at higher level, but he was still an important player for Termon down through the years.

Paul McGonigle (Buncrana)

Paul was a hard man to stop because he was big and strong and had good hands, and he could kick points as well. A nice fella, he always gave it hard and fair.

John Gildea (Naomh Conaill)

John wasn’t as nice as Paul on the pitch, and he was a real competitor. He was very good in the air and on the ground. The harder you hit Gildea, the more he enjoyed it.

John Gildea on the ball

Ronan McLaughlin (Burt)

Ronan McLaughlin was one of Burt’s main men. He was tough and fast and had this great side-step. He had a good eye for goal, and if he was having a good day, he would let you know all about it.

Michael Hegarty (Kilcar)

Mickey Hegarty was a top class player. I remember one day we went down to play Kilcar and we needed to win to avoid relegation. We were two points up and Mickey picked up the ball and ran at us. We brought him down but he got up and took the free quickly and stuck it in the top corner from thirty yards. It was an unbelievable shot but the ref brought the free back and they weren’t happy. Mickey carried the fight for Kilcar for many years.

Michael Hegarty on the ball

Michael O’Donnell (Carndonagh)

We would have had a lot of battles with Carndonagh and they were strong when Brian Mullins was down there. Michael O’Donnell was a very good player who went on to play soccer for UCD. He had two good feet and was a hard man to stop.

Declan Bonner (Na Rossa)

I remember we played Na Rossa in a championship game on the old pitch up in Glenswilly and Declan Bonner was playing. He had a bad day the week for the county, and a Glenswilly supporter who I won’t name, roared onto Bonner to ‘hit another Cavan free’. We went on to lose the game 10-9 and Bonner scored nine of their points.

Seamie ‘Coshia’ Friel (Gaeil Fhánada)

Seamie was a big player for Fanad down through the years. He was as strong as a bull, had two good feet, nice balance, and a good dummy solo that was hard to stop. He was unlucky not to get more of a run with Donegal.

Seamie ‘Coshia’ Friel

Seamus Durkan (Milford)

One of the defeats that annoys me the most to this day was against Milford in the Junior Final in 2000. Seamus Durkan was brilliant that day and scored three or four points. Seamus was in a bad accident a few years after that but he still brings up that final any time I’ve met him.

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