A man with a deep passion and love for the game he has served so well
Born in Roslea, County Fermanagh in 1953, Peter McGinnity led his county to a Dr. McKenna Cup victory in 1977 and an Ulster final appearance in 1982 against Armagh. Peter was awarded a football All Star award the same year, and went on to manage the Erne County in the 1980s while still playing in the midfield position.
McGinnity first played competitive football as a student at St. Michael’s College, Enniskillen under the tuition of the legendary Fermanagh star Mick Brewster. He was such a prodigious talent that he made the McRory Cup team at the age of fifteen. The team reached the final that year, 1969, but they were unfortunate to lose to St. Colman’s Newry in the final by three points.
1970 brought the first taste of success to the young McGinnity, winning a Rannafast Cup medal with his county, an Ulster minor league medal and Ulster under-21 Championship medal with his county; and making his debut as a 17 year old for the Fermanagh senior team thus commencing a 20 year association with the team.
The Fermanagh under 21 teams of 1970 and 1971 were exceptionally talented, reaching consecutive All-Ireland finals and unlucky to lose to Cork on both occasions. The senior team however experienced lean times, and the only success during the 1970s was the Dr McKenna cup victory in 1977 against neighbours Donegal by a single point, 1-8 to 1-7. It was a magnificent achievement, considering that Fermanagh had not won the trophy since 1934.
McGinnity in exile
During the 1970s McGinnity trained as a Physical Education teacher at St Joseph’s Training College in Belfast. He decided to transfer his club allegiance to a local team, St. Johns, and helped the Antrim side win three county titles and an Ulster Championship title between 1976 and 1979. St Johns went on to contest the 1978 All Ireland club final, only to be defeated by Thomond College of Limerick.
McGuinnity returned to his native county in 1979 after being appointed as a PE teacher in St Michaels, his former college. He re-commenced playing for Roslea, and this boosted the fortune of the tiny club situated on the Monaghan border. Three county championships were won in 1982, 1984 and 1986, and an Ulster Club final appearance achieved in 1982.
1982 was the year that Fermanagh narrowly failed to win the Anglo-Celt cup for Ulster senior football. Surprise victories over Derry and Tyrone in the first round and semi-final respectively meant that the Erne men were in their first final since 1945. Unfortunately Armagh proved too strong in the final, winning by 0-10 to 1-4. Fermanagh had actually led after McGinnity had scored a magnificent goal midway through the second half, but could not sustain their efforts. He did receive an All Star for his outstanding performances in the 1982 championship campaign, the first footballer from Fermanagh to win such an accolade.
A successful coach
Following a number of injuries McGinnity decided to retire from playing in 1989, and focus on the coaching side of the game. He has been quite successful with the various teams he has managed, from the St Michael’s College McRory cup winning teams of 1992 and 1999 to the Killyclogher senior team who defeated the hot favourites Errigal Ciaran to win the O’Neill Cup for Tyrone Senior Football Champions in 2003. He also had a spell in charge of the Irish International Rules squad between 2002 and 2004.
In recent times Peter McGinnity has also contributed to the commentary of the BBC’s Ulster Championship television coverage. Through this medium he manages to convey a deep passion and love for the game that he has served so well. He is a living Fermanagh and Ulster legend, and arguably one of the best footballers never to have won Ulster and All Ireland medals for Gaelic Football.
© Cathal Coyle 2005