Behind the scenes
Donegal have enthralled us all with their style of play that has brought them all the way to this year's All-Ireland final. Their fitness levels have abolished the myth that amateur sports people can only reach a certain level.
On Sunday, September 23rd, the Ulster champions will take on Mayo in the 2012 showpiece final. No stone has been left unturned in their preparations for this year's campaign, both on and off the field.
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and his players maybe taking all the plaudits on the field, but there are many people off the field, whose work ethic, match that of the footballers. One such person is former county board chairman and Treasurer Danny Harkin, who since last April has been chairman of the Donegal GAA supporters group, Club Tir Chonaill.
Danny's task, along with his hard working committee was to raise funding of €125,000 in order to receive funding of €250,000 from Croke Park for the further development of the county's Centre of Excellence in Convoy.
In the current economic climate, this may seem like an impossible task, but not for this group as they set about the task as Jim McGuinness would when planning for any match, meticulously. The main fundraising drive was to ask for donations from Donegal people that could be paid in one lump sum, or in instalments and Danny admitted to hoganstand.com that the reaction has been incredible.
“We have raised over the €125,000 needed in just four months, which is great. The Donegal people have really got behind us even in these difficult times. The reaction has been brilliant, we've even had people ringing us up asking is to come collect the money,” revealed Danny.
“We met with Donegal people in Dublin and they have been very generous towards as have people in the UK and U.S and we would like to thank them all for their support. There is a feel good factor in the county at the moment, due to the success of the senior footballers and hopefully we will be celebrating on All-Ireland final day. An incentive that we brought in was anyone who made a donation had the option of buying two tickets for the All-Ireland final and this has been received with great encouragement.
Danny stated that two pitches are already developed at the Centre of Excellence, which will be in use over the coming months, while he admitted that there was still a lot of finance to be raised to complete the project.
“The development will cost in the region of €3 million and we hope to have it completed in the next two years. We have two pitches ready for use and our next phase is to put in floodlights and dressingrooms. There will be five pitches in total when it is finished.”
Getting back to the game and Danny predicts a very close contest and he feels that Mayo will provide a stern test for McGuinness' charges. “Mayo play excellent football and always have done. I certainly feel that it will be an open game. Donegal have added an attacking flair to their style of football this year and it has proven very successful. As Jim McGuinness said, they weren't out to entertain last year, but certainly this year, everyone has got behind them, including a lot of neutrals.”
It may come as a surprise that Danny has a day job and he is employed by Letterkenny based DM Waste, which was established 20 years ago. DM Waste provide services to meet every waste, refuse and recycling need from home refuse collection to industrial waste disposal.