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1992 Donegal Captain Had 'Rough Patch' After Retiring From Football

1992 Donegal Captain Had 'Rough Patch' After Retiring From Football
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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1992 All-Ireland winning Donegal captain Anthony Molloy says he went through a "rough patch" following his retirement from football three years after lifting Sam Maguire.

Molloy was filled with "pride and joy" after becoming the first Donegal man to captain his county to the All-Ireland title.

'Donegal went berserk'

"The county went berserk, no doubt about it, not just for a week, but for months afterwards. It was a great time," Molloy says in his episode of TG4 series Laochra Gael which airs at 9:30pm on March 9th.

Molloy enjoyed the first six to eight weeks of celebrations, but that feeling waned as the party rolled on into March of the following year.

anthony molloy donegal laochra gael

20 September 1992; The Donegal team prior to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final against Dublin at Croke Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

"'92 was good to me in many ways," says the Ardara club man.


But at the same time, there was another side to the story. A man who was not well-known, except within his own county, was suddenly famous throughout the county was suddenly famous throughout the county and abroad.

The ESB gave me time off work so I visited every national school in the county - second level, third level. So I was out visiting schools all day and then out again at night, giving speeches. It was hard going.

I was doing official openings for pubs and restaurants - every kind of business. That went on for months and months.

I was meeting the same people night after night, bringing the cup around the place. That was a cup that I had dreamt about from a young age, and now I'm sick of looking at it! I must admit it was very hard.

Due to knee problems, Molloy called time on his football career while still in his mid-30s. He turned to alcohol, and his marriage eventually broke down.

13 May 2001; Anthony Molloy, Donegal Minor manager, during the Ulster Minor Football Championship Quarter-Final match between Donegal and Fermanagh at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Donegal. Photo by Damien Eagers/Sportsfile

"When you hang up your boots, it's not an easy thing to do, but I had to retire because of my knee anyway. It was bone on bone at that stage," says Molloy, who, by the age of 41, was struggling to get out of bed due to the injury.

"It was a sad time. There was no training, there were no games. I no longer had that companionship that we shared for years. It left a big vacuum, and I had a lot of free time.


"I lost my way. I had a drink problem around that time. I started going to pubs and binge-drinking. You wouldn't be long meeting people in the pub who'd tell you how great you were.

"I couldn't be my own man. People were buying me, buying my company, and I let it happen too. I couldn't so 'no' to anybody. That wasn't my personality. I worried about what people would think of me. I wasn't happy with my life at that time."

Molloy says he "looked for help and got it".


26 October 2012; Donegal's Karl Lacey receives his 2012 GAA GPA Footballer of the Year award, sponsored by Opel, from former Donegal footballer Anthony Molloy. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

"I also went to AA for a while," he says.


"That was good for me, but I had to learn myself. I know now that there's only one person that matters - me. And nobody can help you but yourself. I'm sitting here today and I'm not afraid to be here. Once, I might have needed a drink but not anymore. Nowadays, I don't care what anyone thinks of me.

"I'm in a good place. I'm supervisor of a Rural Social Scheme, a job that I enjoy. I'm also a county councillor. It's good to help people, but you have to look after yourself. That's extremely important for me, and for everyone.

"When I stopped playing football, I went through a rough patch. Thank God, I came out the other side of it. I grew as a person after that win [in 1992]. I'm delighted now because I know in my heart that I'm my own man. At one time, I wasn't."

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues touched upon in this article, you can find out more information through Alcoholics Anonymous Ireland.

See Also: In Dublin's 'Real Melting Pot Of Cultures' Macauley Is Doing Trojan Work

anthony molloy donegal laochra gael



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