Na Piarsaigh Óga CLG have announced that this year’s recipient of the Club’s highest accolade – induction into the Hall of Fame – is Eamon Donaldson.
Big Geordie as he is affectionately known as by many has given the club many years of service and dedication both on and off the field of play.
Chairman, secretary, treasurer, manager at senior and underage levels. Senior and youth Player. Committee man and social club bar manager. There were not too many roles that he didn’t fulfil.
Big in stature and big in character there is no doubt that he is indeed a most worthy inductee into the Hall of Fame.
Eamon was born in old Navan Street in 1947. The son of Maisie and Danny Donaldson. His two sisters are Sheila, – married to Eamon McKenna – and Phil, married to Tommy Powell RIP.
His young nephew Donal was a club legend who tragically departed this life far too early. And Eamon himself has suffered personal heartbreak with the passing of his beloved wife Frances also.
From Navan Street, the family then moved over to Navan Terrace where the Donaldson’s are still strongly identified with.
Eamon remembers his first contact with Pearse Óg as coming along to the Athletic Grounds to play juvenile grade along with future club star players Dermot Morris and Brendan Murtagh. He can recall playing at full back for the minors in a good championship run in 1965 but being put into midfield to mark Colm McKinstry of Clan na Gael.
This is the position that he played for many years until switched into full forward. In this role he was pretty dominant, the old style ‘Bear in the Square’!
1967 was a highlight year for Eamon with the club achieving their first ever Intermediate Championship under team captain Mickey D. Donnelly. His own performances that year caught the eye of the county selectors and with Harry McGeough RIP he had a few outings as a young 19-year-old.
He soldiered on until the Ógs once again became county intermediate champions in 1973, a team captained by Joe Harney RIP. He played on until hanging up the football boots in 1978 having, in these years, given guidance and his strong physical presence to the exciting youthful talent coming through into senior level.
Throughout his playing days Eamon found the time to help with underage teams. In 1976 he became manager of the u21 team and led the team to win this inaugural county championship.
Beating teams like Crossmaglen and Clan na Gael instilled great self belief in this young squad. He was very proud that many of them, like Tom Donnelly, Gerry Cullen, Kieran O’Connor RIP and Brian Hughes went on to become the back bone of the club’s first ever county senior title in 1985.
Another accomplishment that he was most proud to have been involved with was the erection of the youth club in Drumarg. He remembers the purchase of two old prefabs in Belfast and how when in use them being invaluable as a place of fun and indeed refuge for local children in the turbulent days of the early ‘70s.
From this beginning plans were then put in place for to have a social club built and through which the funds raised could be ploughed into youth and adult football development. He then held the role of Chairman for a number of years and became the social club manager which was a time when the crowds flocked out to the Drumarg venue for entertainment.
In 1980 he was involved with the organising of a trip by Ógs members to visit the USA and having personally enjoyed the experience he moved out there for a time to live.
On his return he began work in the Toby Jug where many Ógs players and supporters frequented. A great hurler himself, in later years he gave great service also to the Cúchulainns and for many years was their chairman.
When people will talk of the early years of Pearse Óg GFC in the 1960s and 70s they will inevitably talk of the role of Eamon Donaldson as his contribution was indeed immense.
Many stories and anecdotes of how he quietly helped those less fortunate around him and the guidance that he gave to young players will go unsaid.
The club are therefore honoured to award this the 2023 Hall of Fame to Eamon ‘Geordie’ Donaldson.