"Grand Ould Days of Soccer in the Isle"

In the days of old, men from Donegal and Derry came to Pollen Strand and Green to settle their warring differences with the local chieftain Niall Garve O'Donnell and his subjects. The locals were victorious on the day. Pollen Green has since been the scene of many a sporting encounter. As the centuries went by, the athletic and football challenges of Pollen Green attracted numerous sportsmen from far and near .Many a sporting event was debated in the 'local' afterwards.

In the early 1900s, the Isle Shamrocks soccer team played host to many visiting opponents at Pollen Green. The most northern railway station in Ireland, Rashenny, witnessed the arrival of many teams and supporters each summer. Pollen Strand offered many an opportunity to relax after the game. Many athletes walked or cycled from other parishes in Inishowen. In one of the early encounters of the 1915/16 season the Isle Shamrocks challenged the might of Moville. The 'Isle' won 3-1. This song written by Daniel Doherty (Denary), The Castles and Boston - recalls the encounter.

'Moville and Pollan Green'
On a lovely day in October
I marched to Pollan Strand
To see a game of soccer as you may understand
When I landed at the big bank
Most glorious to be seen
To see the Isle Boys marching out
They were always dressed in green.

James Neilly was on the outside line
He was digging in the sand
Watch out and don't go down too deep
A voice says Paddy Shearn
James buttoned his coat and he kicked a sod
It went a foot or two
Denis was right behind him
He was puffing black and blue.

The whistle it was sounded
And the Isle boys got the ball -
The Moville men tried to stop it
But they were not there at all.
They tried for to protect their goal
And they worked both heart and soul
And when the Masters got it
It went flying through the goals.

Paddy Coyle was on the left back
James the Master at his side
The Moville tried to break the line
She was running with the tide.
Charlie Coyle was on the full back
Dinnie Paddy O'Donnell at the goals
And when the Masters got it
It went flying through the goals.

Now the medals they were still at stake
The Moville men though they won
But the Isle men they were confident
So they played against the wind.
When the Moville men went against the wind
Sure they were a total wreck
"Be Christ" says John Johnny Willie
Sure we have them by the neck.

The score it stood at 3 to 1
In favour of the Isle
The Moville boys tried with all their might
But they hadn't got the style
So now the game was ended as you may understand
The Moville men they were walking round
Not one to shake their hand
The Isle boys they were marching round
Most glorious to be seen
The day they won the medals
From Moville on Pollan Green.

Song composed by Dan Doherty (Denary), The Castle and Boston.

The 'Isle' men travelled to many venues in Inishowen for sports days or soccer games. The Dorchester Regiment. based at Glen House, challenged the Isle Shamrocks to a game at Pollan Green in 1916. The medals were sponsored by The Regiment and the 'Isle' won the day. Fund raising for football teams in those days was not a priority - the odd barn or house dance raised enough to cover the cost of a ball and jerseys. Each player bought his own boots.

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The tradition of soccer continued in the 'Isle'. The Shamrocks won the Inishowen Cup at Malin Head in 1932/'33. The team was:- (back row from left) Owen Doherty (Canny), Figart: Paddy McLaughlin (Rye), Doaghmore: Paddy McGeoghan (Norr), Clara: Bill McCandless, Straths: Mick Kearney, Tullagh: Mickey Doherty (Brian), Lagahurry.(front row from left) James Doherty (Craig), I.O.D.: Sam McCandless, Straths: Colm Doherty (The Doctor). Clonmany: Charlie Gubbin, Beltra: Eddie Kelly, Tullagh.

James Craig and Sam McCandless were the scorers. The two members of the team who are still alive are Sam McCandless (England) and Paddy McGeoghan (Clara).

On the way to the match at Malin Head, our team and supporters en route to the game, had to disembark from the bus so that it could climb lagg Brae. At the summit our jolly bunch boarded the bus and headed for the 'Head'.

Barely settled down in their seats again the passengers were ordered to desembark again. This time the law took a headcount of the passengers, and luckily enough the Isle bus was allowed to proceed.

After a successful day, as was customary, the celebrations continued into the 'wee hours'. Victory celebrations were held in Pat Doherty's (Donola) Barn where there was an abundance of the 'wee Still'.

A few years later another Isle team were successful in the Inishowen Cup. One of the players, Mickey Doherty (Brian) cycled to Derry to collect their new jerseys. Mickey's problem was how to smuggle them past the Customs at Bridgend. So Mickey donned the twelve jerseys and shorts and camouflaged the 'rig' by donning a white overcoat. Mickey managed to arrive home incognito.

During the war years, many men were employed in work schemes constructing bog roads. Many Isle men were employed on such a scheme at Sorn in Buncrana. The Isle men were transported by James McGonagle of Beltra in his lorry. Along with some Urris players, the Isle Shamrocks entered the Buncrana League and Cup of 1946. After a long, tiresome day, the Isle Shamrocks often entertained soccer fans to ninety minutes of splendid football at Buncrana.

Soccer continued in the Isle of Doagh until 1950 and then declined. In 1990, the Isle Shamrocks revival began. The boys of the area were looking for football so a local committee began to organise coaching sessions and friendlies. The pitch at Beltra was prepared for this revival. Soon after, a junior side was organised and competition sought. Many friendlies were played in 1991 and 1992 and our opponents were Illies, Quigley's Point. Culdaff Reserves, Carndonagh, Clonmany Shamrocks, Bonagee and Sea Rovers.

In our most recent game, Isle Shamrocks defeated Top 0' The Hill, Derry by 4-2. Our under 17 team has entered the Inishowen League under 17s.

We hope the Isle Shamrocks will be permitted to play in the lnishowen League in the 1992/'93 season.

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