The Best XV I have Played Against: Liam Breen

Liam Breen has enjoyed a long and fruitful career with Glenfin and managed his club to the Intermediate title in 2018.

He made his debut for Glenfin’s junior team when he was 15, and after serving his apprenticeship, linked up with the senior side in 1989.

Breen continued to play with the seniors until 2002, and was a regular with their reserves and third teams in the years that followed.

He 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 Joyce McMullin (Four Masters), John Duffy (Aodh Ruadh), Sylvester Maguire (Aodh Ruadh), and Martin Gavigan (Ardara).


Gary Walsh (Aodh Ruadh)

I didn’t actually play against Gary until I was back playing junior football with Glenfin, but even at that level, Gary stood out a mile. He had a great kick-out and was very commanding around the square. A Top class goalkeeper.

Mark Crossan

Mark Crossan (St Eunan’s)

Mark was only a year older than me so we would have had a lot of battles with him from underage right the way up to senior. He was one of the tightest markers you would come across and very good at going forward too. You definitely didn’t want to be marked by Crossan.

John Joe Doherty (Naomh Columba)

John Joe was a teak-tough defender and he wouldn’t give you an inch. More often than not he would be able to get his hand in but if the full-forward was lucky enough to get out in front, you could be sure John Joe would be putting huge pressure on him. A good man to talk football with after a match too.


24 May 1998; Barry McGowan of Donegal during the Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final match between Antrim and Donegal at Casement Park in Belfast. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Barry McGowan (Killybegs)

Barry McGowan was probably the most skilful man I ever played against. He was a strong defender but very accomplished on the ball too and he could have played in any position on the field.

Declan Boyle (Killybegs)

I remember playing a championship game against Killybegs one year and being moved onto Declan Boyle at half-time. The second half was the worst half-an-hour of my playing days. He was so strong and full of pace and I just couldn’t get near him. Declan went on to concentrate on soccer then and I’d say he was the biggest loss Donegal football has ever had.

Noel Hegarty

Noel Hegarty (Naomh Columba)

Noel Hegarty was the driving force behind Naomh Columba for years and he played a key role when they won the championship. He was a great player, who could play anywhere in the diamond, whether it was centre half-back, midfield, or centre half-forward.

Martin Shovlin (Naomh Ultan)

The first name I put down on this team. Martin was as tough as you would come across on the GAA field. A fine servant to Donegal and a great clubman as well.

Marty Carlin (Red Hugh’s)

We played against Red Hugh’s a lot in championship football, and Marty Carlin was always the man you had to watch. He had a superb left foot and was the best club player in Donegal from the mid-eighties and mid-nineties. It’s a pity he wasn’t part of the team in 1992 and didn’t get a better run with the county because he was definitely good enough.

Anthony Molloy

Anthony Molloy (Ardara)

What can you say about Anthony Molloy. He was a fantastic leader for club and county. A brilliant fielder of the ball and he could hand-pass it further than some men could kick it. If you were in the way when he was going for a ball, it wasn’t going to end well for you.

James McHugh (Kilcar)

You always had to keep a close eye on James McHugh when playing against Kilcar. We played against them in the 1993 championship semi-final and we were five points up at half-time and they had a man sent off. James moved back to centre half-back that day and completely turned the game and they went on to win the championship that year. It was a sore one for us.

Martin McHugh

Martin McHugh (Kilcar)

On his day, Martin McHugh was as good as any forward in the country, and he was so hard to handle at club level. One of the best players Donegal has ever produced.

Paddy Hegarty (Naomh Columba)

Paddy always gave everything he had for Glencolmcille and he had all the tricks. I remember he sold a dummy to all of Clones one day. He was unlucky not to play more for Donegal but a seriously good player.

Declan Bonner (Na Rossa)

We played a lot against Na Rossa and Declan Bonner and his brother Sean carried them for years. Declan was brilliant at kicking scores and that was why Na Rossa stayed in Division 1 for so long.

Tommy Ryan

Tommy Ryan (Termon)

We had many battles with Termon and sometimes the ball got in the way. Tommy was always the main man for Termon. He was their target man and main score-getter. A hard player to stop when in full flow.

Manus Boyle (Killybegs)

We came across Killybegs a good bit in the championship in the early nineties and Manus was always hard to handle. He could score from anywhere.

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