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Glenties' glee for the team's leader and hero

A deafening roar echoed through a half-deserted Glenties when the whistle blew.

Those who didn't make it to Croke Park made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.

"It's like World War Two. Only the very young and very old are left in town. Everyone else is at Croke Park," joked local mum Maria MacInnes.

All eyes were glued to the TV screens erected in the Highlands Hotel as Donegal fought to retain its early lead.

The loudest noise was reserved for when the camera sought out Glenties man Jim McGuinness on the sideline.

At the end, supporters leapt to their feet and embraced each other in joyous unison.

"We did it," declared a jubilant Mary Mick Gallagher, whose son Michael played for the 1992 side that won the county's only other All-Ireland title.

She had watched the often nail-biting match surrounded by children and grandchildren in An Cluid Bar, which had only opened two days earlier.

"Jim is our hero. He is everything you would ask for in a leader," she said.

Her daughter, Maria MacInnes, is in agreement.

"I remember him as a young tearaway with long wavy hair. Now he is a person of substance. He has built this team in steps, but above all he is a local man," she said.

No sooner had yesterday's match ended than the beeping motorcades took off and the fiddles came out as the celebrations got under way, although it will be Wednesday before the most prized piece of silverware in the land makes it back to Glenties, the team's spiritual home.

Irish Independent