The History of Clann na nGael (Aughabrack & Dunamanagh)
Formation of Clann na nGael in 1996:
The Clann na nGael club serves the parish of Donagheady which is the most northerly parish in Tyrone. The centre of the parish is approximately 10 miles from the nearest town of Strabane, with the ‘east’ of the parish straddling the Derry border. The club is an amalgamation of the two previous clubs in the parish; Aughabrack O’Connells & Dunamanagh St Patrick’s. The two clubs had been playing underage football together for quite a few years under the parish name (Donagheady) prior to 1996, so, for most it was a natural and obvious move to amalgamate at senior level and the club would play under the banner of Donagheady Gaels for its first year of existence before changing to Clann na nGael in 1997. This brave decision seemed to bear fruit fairly quickly as the club within three seasons made it to Senior football, via the unprecedented ‘Double-Double’ victories, winning the Junior League and Championship in 1997 and Intermediate League and Championship in 1998.
The previous two clubs despite having limited resources had always ‘punched way above their weight’ with the Dunamanagh club winning three Junior Championships in 1956, 1967 and 1985. For Aughabrack after they reformed in 1979, they too went straight from Junior football to Senior football in successive years, a fantastic achievement, with the club then very fittingly in its last competitive game winning the Division 3 ‘Frank O’Neill’ Cup, in early 1996.
Early Football History
Football in the parish can be traced right back to 1921 via the first club in the parish ‘Dunamanagh Red Hugh’s who played for one season before the volatile political climate of the day and impending Irish Civil War put paid to the Strabane and District League they were playing in. It would be the late 40’s before football emerged again via an Aughabrack team who played for a few years until 1952. After a couple of dormant years, a team in Dunamanagh emerged again in 1954 with the legendary ‘Gael’ Dan McDermott much to the fore. The team increasingly would have had players from all parts of the parish. The ever colourful history of GAA in the parish then resulted in Dunamanagh St Patrick’s amalgamating with our neighbouring parish Leckpatrick to form Owen Roe O’Neills. So, from 1970 to 1979, football in the parish was catered for via Owen Roes who made it to the Tyrone Senior Championship final only to be defeated by Trillick. In 1979, as alluded to above, Aughabrack then reformed, closely followed by Dunamanagh in 1982 (now breaking away from Owen Roes), with both clubs then active in the parish prior to the amalgamation of 1996, which formed the existing Clann na nGael club.
It should be noted that there has been more than football played in the parish over the years with Camogie played in Dunamanagh for a few years in the 1950’s and a short but very successful stint in hurling in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. The hurling club known as Dunamanagh Aodh Ruadh (Red Hugh’s) won three Senior League titles and then finally a Tyrone Senior Hurling Championship in 1981 defeating a strong Carrickmore team (as part of a League & championship double). In terms of Scor, we’ve had a few County successes at both Scor Sinsear and Scor na Nog levels in the 1980’s and a further Adult title captured in Solo-Singing in 2015 after Scor was re-introduced to the parish.
Although no formal league structure in place at the time, Aughabrack ladies competed for a couple of years in/around 1980 playing successfully in some local tournaments but it would be 2004 before the ladies get going in earnest. The club has now a very strong ladies contingent with underage teams and a thriving senior team that has also graced themselves in senior football lately, powered by various League and Championship winning teams such as; Junior B League & Championship winners (2007), Junior League and Championship winners (2008) and Intermediate League winners (2012 & 2016).
2005 – A special year:
So, a very rich and ‘interesting’ history provides the backdrop to the current Clann na nGael club, and a club that has consistently excelled given the limitations of a small rural club. We have produced scores of county players (both male and female) over the decades, beginning with John McMenamin back in 1957 but 2005 in particular provides fond memories for all parishioners when we had Brian Dooher lifting the Sam Maguire cup for Tyrone and Stephen O’Neill claiming the much coveted ‘Player of the Year’ trophy, no mean achievement for a small club at the foot of the Sperrins!!