WHEN Donal Martin announced he was stepping down as chairman of Cloughmills Girls and Boys Football Club, there was no doubt in the minds of his colleagues that his farewell should be an occasion he would never forget.
Donal had been at the helm for 12 years and in that time had given so many youngsters the opportunity of playing football in a mixed team and in a local league.
In addition, he organised numerous charity events, threw himself into community activities and proved himself an all-round good and respected member of the Cloughmills fraternity.
Around 200 people from the village and beyond joined Donal’s family and friends for a meal and an auction. It was an unprecedented response, but one which was thoroughly deserved.
Donal’s colleague, Donna Magill, sang his praises for all that he had done down the years. She said he had been a real stalwart and that his contribution had been immense.
Donal and Ian Getty started the team for primary school children. Today, the committee is made up of Donna, Grainne McAuley and Paul McCormick.
Many in the Cloughmills community are grateful for all that has been done for them through the football and other events and none more so than Hazel and Liam McDonald whose daughter, Pauline, was once a member.
Sadly, she died in an accident but ever since Donal and his colleagues always organised an annual event for a charity chosen by the McDonald family. This year the proceeds will go to Surgical 2 at the Causeway Hospital where Hazel’s late father, Uel Gage, was hospitalised.
An indication of the standing of the farewell event can be gauged by the fact that Barbara McNarry signed one of her brother, George Best’s replica Manchester United shirts. It is understood that this is the first time Mrs. McNarry has done so.
Proceeds from Donal’s big night will go towards providing defibrillators for the two local schools. As for Donal, he might be stepping aside from the Football Club but he fully intends to carrying on with his community work and fund-raising.