Brotherly love on hold for McNamees
The breakfast table in the McNamee household in Ramelton could be an interesting place tomorrow morning.
The League of Ireland season kicks off with a bang tomorrow night as newly-promoted Finn Harps host Derry City in Ballybofey.
Some 4,500 people will cram into Finn Park for the 60th north west derby and the McNamee brothers, Harps' Tony and Derry's Barry, will be on opposing sides. The two were in the same room when the fixtures were confirmed in December.
"It's strange," says Tony, Harps' Young Player of the Year. "I'll wake up and have breakfast with Barry on Friday and then there's the game. . .
"It's going to be strange seeing him on the opposite team, but it's just part of the job."
They've crossed swords three times previously and one of those was a pre-season friendly last year between Harps and Derry that was abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch at half-time.
In 2007, Barry lined out for Rathmullan Celtic while Tony played for Swilly Rovers in a Letterkenny & District U-16 final
Rathmullan won a tense affair, but a challenge from his younger brother had Barry sidelined for several weeks.
"Harps v Derry is a big rivalry in the north-west so this will be something new for both of us," says Barry, who is joined at Derry by another brother, Shane, who's with the U-17s. "All the family will be shouting for him, but I'll just have to do my best."
The McNamee brothers joined Derry City in 2011, when they were recruited to play in the Ulster Senior League.
An injury crisis left then manager Declan Devine short of numbers and he drafted Barry into the first team squad in 2012, and he hasn't looked back.
The McNamees are nephews of legendary Harps striker Con McLaughlin.
In 2014, Tony McNamee was one of the young players to get a chance under the ill-fated reign of Roddy Collins. The Dubliner's departure meant the end for the younger McNamee, who was out of favour with Peter Hutton.
"I played three or four games in the Premier Division at Derry and I was happy with how I played," Tony says. "I did reasonably well."
They won't be the first set of brothers to face each other on north-west derby day. Jim and Paddy McDermott faced off, as did Charlie and Liam McDermott.
Tony says: "We were always on the same team. When we were on the same pitch, we'd always have been looking to find each other because we knew each other's game so well."