The first time I met Donie Shine was at a Roscommon GAA outing in Glasson Golf Club. He was about fifteen or sixteen years of age and was there as a guest of his dad, Donie Senior (RIP), who was the Captain of the golf society that year. Of course young Donie was a marvellous golfer (single-figure handicap) – he hit the ball the proverbial mile!
Even at that stage, he was a very impressive young man, and lovely to chat to. All the reports coming out from Clann na nGael at the time indicated that he was an outstanding footballer too.
When it came to 2006, Fergal O’Donnell and his selectors made young Donie one of the mainstays of the county minor team. He was still only seventeen years old and had another year to go at minor level. But he had everything needed to be a top class footballer. He was a class free-taker, had a great football brain, and was a natural leader. The rest, as they say, is history.
Playing with Roscommon over the years, there were many highlights for Donie, but two will remain with me. One was in the last ten minutes of the 2006 All-Ireland minor final replay. Roscommon were dominating the game, but not on the scoreboard. However, Donie Shine took the game by the scruff of the neck and ensured that he drove Roscommon on to a sensational victory.
The other memory is of the Connacht SFC final in 2010, when Roscommon shocked Sligo to win the title. Donie’s free-taking display that day was sensational. He kicked no less than ten points, with some fantastic long-range scores amongst them. A real leader coming up trumps once again on the big day. Without him, Roscommon would never have won that title.
He was a superb score-getter and a great free-taker. Every time Donie played for Roscommon, you could chalk down 0-8 or 0-10. In fact, I was always of the opinion that Donie didn’t play for Roscommon seniors nearly as often as he should have. In latter years, there was a perception that he wasn’t fast enough for the modern game, but he was a great leader and inspired others around him. He certainly would have been in my team.
Of course he was also an inspirational club player, and was one of those who led Clann na nGael to their recapturing the Fahey Cup in 2015, after a 19-year gap. He scored the vital goal in the final as Clann edged out Padraig Pearses by a point.
He was one of the main men again in 2018 when Clann defeated St. Brigid’s in the decider. This time, Donie scored 1-7 in the final.
In the past twenty years or so, Donie Shine’s contribution to Roscommon football is up there with any player we have seen over that period. He is a lovely man, and I know that his legendary dad, who was a great friend of mine, was very proud of him – even if he didn’t perhaps say it out straight too often!
Best wishes to Donie on your retirement, and on behalf of all Roscommon GAA followers, I say thanks for the memories, big guy!