Milford making an impact in Donegal
By Cian O’Connell
These are glory days for Milford GAA. A first Donegal Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final encounter against the decorated St Eunan’s from Letterkenny is top of the agenda.
The Saturday evening tussle at MacCumhaill Park is dominating the conversations around Milford, Rathmullan, and Ramelton.
Undoubtedly a demanding assignment awaits, but Milford are relishing the journey following a successful stint during the past six years.
For a club only formed in 1983, Milford’s recent rise has been impressive with Chairman Patrick Curley stressing the value and importance of sheer hard graft in the underage grades.
“Hard work was put in at underage level by the coaches,” Curley says. “We did compete in A in some of the competitions which we brought through along from Under 12 to minor level.
“We were competing in some of the A competitions. That gave a big boost to the lads, who then knew they were as good as anybody around then. There wasn't an inferiority complex for them.”
Curley is adamant that Milford acquired significant belief and momentum in 2013 when silverware was attained.
“We have done well, but it is really since 2013 that this has started,” Curley states. “Back in 2013 we were down in Division Four, we won the Junior Championship that year. We were Division Four in the League and we have really climbed.
“We were through before we played Glenswilly on Sunday evening, but we are very surprised that we actually won the group. We were hoping we'd get out of the group, but we thought we would be second maybe behind Glenswilly or Glenfin. To actually come out as winners was huge for us. It is a huge boost.”
Excitement is building around Milford, who are now in their second stint as a Senior outfit in Donegal. “We were Senior once before in 1993,” Curley recalls.
“We played in the Senior Championship that year after winning the Intermediate in 1992. A week after Donegal won the All Ireland in 1992 we won the Intermediate Championship. The following year we were playing Senior Championship, there was a four game saga with Glenfin.
“That time the Donegal Championship was played on a home and away basis. We won at home and they won at home. It went to a third match, that ended in a draw.
Then it went to a fourth game, we were narrowly beaten by two points. That was the last time we were in the Senior Championship. We went down playing Junior and Intermediate after that, we were up and down.”
Challenges exist for Milford, but Curley is encouraged about the future of the club. “We have good numbers, but it is recognised as a soccer area,” Curley remarks.
“We have three towns that would form part of the club Milford, Ramelton, and Rathmullan. That is our catchment area, soccer is strong, but we are doing well and we have numbers.
“The lads are enjoying their football, hopefully it will go well on Saturday evening. You have Milford United, Swilly Rovers, and Rathmullan. Some of the players from the area would play for Finn Harps.”
Still Milford have found a way to navigate a path into the last eight of a keenly contested Donegal Championship.
“It is unheard of, it is new and novel, something that has never been done before to be in a Quarter-Final of the Senior Championship,” Curley admits. Milford’s interesting adventure continues.