Slaughtneil flag flying high in Bruff farmyard

John Foley's nephew and niece star on history-making teams

Áine Fitzgerald


Áine Fitzgerald


Slaughtneil flag flying high in Bruff farmyard

John Foley with the Slaughtneil GAA flag which is flying in his farmyard in Bruff for the County Derry footballers who contest the All-Ireland club football final this Friday Picture: Michael Cowhey

THEY may be separated by some 230 miles but distance does nothing to diminish the family bond between the Foleys.

Flying proudly in John Foley’s farmyard in Bruff is a chequered maroon and white flag - the colours of a south Derry club consisting of no more than 300 families, who have reached exceptional heights in Gaelic games this year.

John’s sister Margaret lives up in Slaughtneil.

The senior camogie team became All-Ireland champions earlier this month giving Derry their first winners in this competition.

Margaret’s daughter Orla McNeill was on the  Slaughtneil panel which claimed the AIB All-Ireland Camogie Senior Club final victory over Sarsfields of Galway.

Meanwhile, Margaret’s son Paul McNeill will be playing with the Slaughtneil football team in Croke Park this Friday when the side take on Dr Crokes in the All-Ireland Club final.

Slaughtneil dual player Paul missed out on a club final double when they were beaten last month by Cuala of Dublin in the All-Ireland hurling club final.

In both codes, Paul generally plays wing-back donning the No 5 jersey.

“I’ve had the flag flying nearly six weeks at this stage - it won’t come down at all if they win,” laughed John this week.

“Most people know at this stage what it is flying for,” he added.

John is heading up to Croker with his sister Mary who lives in Limerick, her husband Noel Hogan and their family for the big game on Friday.

“I think they have a great chance. I love supporting them,” he said.

John makes it his business to see Paul in action as much as he can.

He travelled up north on a number of occasions to see his nephew play in the Ulster championship in both hurling and football.

Margaret met her husband, a Derry man, in Australia and they came back to settle in Derry.

TG4 will broadcast live coverage of the AIB All-Ireland club finals from Croke Park, Dublin featuring Ballyea (Clare) v Cuala (Dublin) in the hurling final (3pm) and Slaughtneil (Derry) v Dr Crokes (Kerry) in the football final at 5pm this Friday afternoon, St Patrick's Day.