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Brian McEniff: Donegal's Historic Player & Manager
Brian McEniff was associated with every one of Donegal’s five Ulster senior football championship winning teams. He was a brilliant wing half back on the Donegal team that won the Ulster senior football title for the very first time in 1972 with victory over Tyrone. Offaly beat Donegal in the All Ireland semi final.
In 1974 Brian was now involved in a coaching capacity with the Donegal senior team, but his greatest contribution would be on the team striving for that elusive All Ireland title. The 1974 Ulster final against Down ended in a draw and Donegal emeged victorious on a scoreline of 3 - 9 to 1 - 12 in the replay. In the All Ireland semi final it w,as Galway facing Donegal and the Tribesmen recorded a facile victory.
The Ulster championship of 1983 dawned with Brian at the helm as team manager and Donegal claimed their third Ulster title with victory over Cavan 1 - 14 to 1 - 11. The All Ireland semi final again renewed rivalry with Galway, who again emerged victorious 1 - 12 to 1 - 11. In 1990 Donegal again won the Ulster title, with Brian at the helm, when beating Armagh 0 - 15 to 0 -14. Battle hardened Meath were the All Ireland semi final opponents of Donegal and Sean Boylan’s men won 3 - 9 to 1 - 7.
Derry were Donegal’s Ulster final opponents in the 1992 provincial final and Donegal recorded a great victory by 0 - 14 to 1 - 9. The 1992 All Ireland semi final opponents were Mayo and finally Donegal, under the guidance of Brian, won a place in the All Ireland final with victory over the Mayo men by 0 - 13 to 0- 9. Dublin were the final opponents and clear favourites, but it was McEniff’s warriors who took Sam home on a scoreline of 0 - 18 to 0 - 14. Donegal had made glorious football history and thirty one counties celebrated a historic occasion.
Brian McEniff first came to prominence as a minor footballer who played in three Ulster minor football championships from 1960 onwards but minor trophies at this level were elusive. Donegal senior selectors called on the services of Brian in his final year as a minor and placed him up front. His move to the No.5 slot in the mid 60s found him a real berth and he went on to become a player of immense talent.
He travelled to San Francisco in 1972 as a replacement All Star, but in 1973 he again travelled with the All Stars as the selected All Star No.5. His coaching skills were also extended to the Ulster Railway Cup teams and under his influence Ulster recorded five Railway Cup titles in 1972/74/83/90/92. He was also appointed as the All Stars manager. As a club player Brian won nine county senior football medals with his local club and in 2003, he again took Donegal to a new level. T
The Bundoran player and coach has left an impact on gaelic football that extends far beyond his own native shores. He ranks alongside many of Ireland’s greatest gaelic football coaches. Donegal gaels were priviliged to have Brian McEniff in their midst.
Derry JF Doody