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Fr. Mc Nally

FR. MC NALLY DIES 11/7/1967
On Tuesday 11th July 1967, Fr. Mc Nally died  while encouraging  Banagher schoolboys during a Banagher v Dungiven game.
It had just gone 8pm when the referee called for the ball to signal the end of the first half. Fr. Mc Nally drew his players in close and had just begun his pep talk when he went down on one knee. Still conscious he said his last words " get in hard, lads". He grabbed for Martin Murphy's left shoulder and collapsed. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was dead on arrival at Altnagelvin Hospital.
The shock and disbelief that permeated the Club was palpable and threw a leaderless Banagher into disarray. 
Everyone knew that the greatest tribute to Fr. Mc Nally would be to ensure that they continued his good work and this was affirmed at a meeting held in Altinure Hall on Monday 20th July 1967. A two minute silence was observed in his memory at this meeting.  Amid rumours of a feud between the players of Feeny and Park and problems with the senior team selection a new committee was elected.
Banagher suffered an inexplicable loss of form in the aftermath of their great motivator's death.The Minors had been  Fr. Mc Nally's pride and joy and it was this team who played the first game after his death and were surprisinly beaten by Drumsurn 1-7 to 1-5. 
However it was to be the Minors  who bounced back to reach the Final of the North Derry Championship when they were defeated by an exceptional  St. Michael's side - 10-9 to 0-7.
Banagher experienced a backlog of fixtures due to the death of their founder and found themselves playing their last league game in mid-November against Kilrea and they ended their season on a happy note, Banagher 1-4 to Kilrea's 0-5.
Chairman          John Mc Nickle
Vice Chairman   Frank Mc Henry
Secretary          Willie Mc Grellis
Treasurer          Billy Hasson
Registrar             Hal Lynch
Fr. Mc Nally was born in Gortin in Co. Tyrone in 1910 to John Charles and Margaret McNally. His mother Margaret was Mullan from Loughtilube near Park. He was one of two children. 
His family  moved to Derry at an early age and he was educated at St. Eugene's, Rosemount and St. Columb's College before moving on to St. Patrick's College Maynooth. He pursued his studies in the Irish College in Paris and was ordained a priest there in 1935 for the Derry Diocese. 
His ministry brought him to Halifax, Barnsley, and York before being recalled to the Derry Diocese in January 1941.He was appointed assistant in Claudy but later moved to Bellarena where he was took up the post of curate. In 1948 he was appointed CC of Gortin but by 1951 he was moved to Ballinascreen where he remained for 13 years. 
In 1964 he was appointed curate of Altinure in the Parish of Banagher and by April 1967 he was appointed Parish Priest of Banagher following the retirement of Fr. Mc Namee. 
While first and foremost he was a priest, Fr. Mc Nally was also a GAA fanatic who firmly believed in everything the GAA stood for especially the preservation of the Irish Language; Irish music and song; and  our Games.
Fr. Mc Nally served as a selector on the 1958 Derry team which was the first ever Derry team to reach an All Ireland Senior Football Final.
He was President of the Ulster  Council at the time of his death and was also serving  on Derry County Board.
As a servant of St. Mary's GAC  Banagher he worked tirelessly for the Club and as Manager of the 1965 Banagher League winning side his powers of motivation were notorious.
Senior and Minor footballers from St. Mary's Banagher formed a guard of honour at his funeral on the steps of Altinure Chapel not fifty yards from the field where he had died.
Rev. J Lecky said of Fr. Mc Nally at his funeral Mass, " He did not spare himself in his work for these good causes. Every leisure moment was devoted to them. He died while encouraging them. And perhaps the circumstances of his death may help the youth to appreciate how he loved  them and wore himself down in his efforts to bring them closer to God".
In their edition of 20th July 1967 The Mid Ulster Observer reported on the death of Fr. Mc Nally,  "The tall broad shouldered smiling priest is no longer with us ..... He was a humble man, but a man with a purpose......He preferred people to speak their minds and was always prepared to listen.
Subpages (1): 1968 and 1969