Stephen O’Donnell said he was moved by the emotional tribute to the victims of the Creeslough tragedy which took place before Friday night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game with Finn Harps in Ballybofey.
President Michael D Higgins was in attendance for the first League of Ireland game to be played in Donegal since the tragic accident which claimed the lives of 10 people.
The names of the victims were printed on the front of a beautiful match programme which was designed by local photographer Clare McCahill. The proceeds from the programme will go directly go to a fund set up for the victims of the tragedy.
Before the game, Dundalk captain Andy Boyle, along with former Harps player and current Republic of Ireland U19 head coach Tom Mohan, and League of Ireland director Mark Scanlon, presented officials of the Donegal club with commemorative wreaths.
Ten candles were then lit by local schoolchildren before a minute’s silence was held on the halfway line with players and officials from both teams, along with the match officials, all standing to show their respect.
Speaking afterwards, O’Donnell, who has family from Donegal, said it was a poignant moment.
“It was quite emotional and I thought the night added to it, the crispness and the silence,” said the Dundalk head coach.
“I said before we went out that we should count our blessings and realise how fortunate we all are. Ten people went, so innocuously and innocently, to a shop to get petrol and buy goods and so many people and so many families have been affected by it.
“It was such a tragic event. I said to the players that in the grand scheme of things it puts everything in perspective. The respect and the President being here, it was lovely and the least everyone in the ground could do.”