Jimmy's Winning Matches

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"Jimmy's Winning Matches"
Song by Rory and the Island
Recorded2012, Lanzarote
Songwriter(s)Rory Gallagher

"Jimmy's Winning Matches", originally called "Jimmy Selling Watches",[1] is a song performed by Rory and the Island—and the anthem of Donegal's march towards the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. Considered an Internet and YouTube sensation, "Jimmy's Winning Matches" hit number one on the iTunes chart.[2][3]

With the title referring to Donegal manager Jim McGuinness,[4][5] the song has been compared both to the legendary sports anthem "Put 'Em Under Pressure" as well as the iconic song "Give It a Lash Jack".[6][7]

Morning Ireland, normally a conservative public service programme on RTÉ Radio 1 dealing with formal issues such as politics, played the song on consecutive days after Donegal won the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. Numerous alternative versions have emerged on YouTube, including one by a "four-year old kid" and one from an "accordion-wielding band".[8]


The song is performed on a Lanzarote beach by Rory Gallagher, formerly of The Revs, and features Jimmy who's "not from Donegal, he comes from Senegal".[9] The pair are perched against a rock upon a Donegal flag lying on the sand with the sea in the background. When Jimmy was prevented from entering Ireland due to a visa issue the hashtag #LetSenegalJimmyIn became a top trending tag on Twitter.[2][10][11] After Donegal secured the Sam Maguire Cup, Ireland West Airport Knock—situated in the territory of beaten All-Ireland Final opposition Mayo—offered to fly Jimmy into Ireland for free.[12]

Notable performances[edit]

The song was sung by Karl Lacey on the Croke Park pitch at the end of a post-match interview following the semi-final win over Cork. When questioned about Donegal's prospects in the final Lacey paused, glanced into the sky and sang "Jimmy's winning matches, Jimmy's winning games..." before running off down the Croke Park tunnel.[13]

After the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final victory over Mayo, Donegal's team captain Michael Murphy completing his speech by breaking into his own version of the complete chorus, "Jimmy's winning matches. Jimmy's winning games. Jimmy's bringing Sammy back to Donegal again".

Murphy sang it again in Pettigo as the team entered Donegal territory.[14]

At the team's homecoming in The Diamond, Donegal, a visibly hyperactive Mark McHugh duetted with a delighted Rory Gallagher on stage as the rest of the team watched on.

At the Letterkenny homecoming on 25 September 2012, Rory Gallagher finished the night with a rousing rendition of "Jimmy's Winning Matches".[15]

Following the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, winning Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin sang his own version of "Cody's Winning Matches", referring to manager Brian Cody.[16]

Notable fans[edit]

The song has met with the approval both of crooner Daniel O'Donnell[13] and Irish international soccer goalkeeper Shay Given, two of Donegal's most famous international exports.[17] Scottish Comedian Frankie Boyle , Actor Sean McGinley .

When Donegal won the All-Ireland Final, Scotland issued the following statement which quoted the song, "The Parliament congratulates County Donegal on winning the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, defeating what it considers was an impressive County Mayo team by 2–11 to 0–13 in front of a crowd of 82,000 at Croke Park in Dublin; congratulates coach Jim McGuinness and staff on ending a 20-year wait to take the Sam Maguire trophy back to the county, and notes that Jimmy is indeed "winning matches and bringing Sam back to Donegal again."[18]


Rory Gallagher, who wrote the song, is a bit mental.

I was playing four-hour gigs to drunken tourists and I just wasn't getting anything out of it. I was broke, playing horrible cover songs, drinking cheap booze and downing uppers. I just knew it couldn't go on.[19][20]

Senegal Jimmy has been the victim of imposters who pose for photographs with unsuspecting tourists.[21]

The title of the song was alluded to in the documentary Jimmy's Winnin Matches, first aired on RTÉ One on Thursday, 3 January 2013 at 9.35 pm, concerning Donegal's Championship success.[22][23][24][25] It is also continuously referenced in headlines, whether the team win or lose.[26][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jimmy's Winning Matches". Rory and the Island. Archived from the original on 6 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b Nolan, Sean (16 September 2012). "Jimmy's Winning Matches star hits visa problem". JOE.ie. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  3. ^ "My Donegal – with Rory "Jimmy's Winning Matches" Gallagher". Donegal Daily. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Jimmy's winning matches because Donegal dance to their own beat". Leitrim Observer. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Jimmy's winning matches: A song for Jim McGuinness". Irish Independent. 14 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Jimmy's Winning Matches". Donegal Democrat. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  7. ^ Hannigan, Mary (24 September 2012). "We'll be singing 'Jimmy's Winning Matches'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 September 2012. Well, that was very, very lovely, all the more so because it was a whole 20 years in the making. The only downside, really, is that we'll be singing "Jimmy's winning matches, Jimmy's winning games" in our sleep, kind of the "Give it a lash Jack" of our time. And try crooning "he's not from Senegal, he comes from Donegal,” while you're waiting for your battered cod and onion rings to be carbonised and you'll understand the true meaning of "discombobulated looks".
  8. ^ Carroll, Jim (28 September 2012). "How Rory Gallagher found a new niche in sports songs". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Jimmys winning matches – Donegal GAA 2012". Newstalk. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  10. ^ "'Jimmy' fails to score visa in time for Donegal's All-Ireland decider: County's adopted anthem for next Sunday's championship decider to be performed solo as one half of duo fails in bid to make trip". The Score. 15 September 2012. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Jimmy's winning visas! He's from Senegal, he's coming to Donegal". Donegal Daily. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Mayo airport bosses offer to fly Senegal Jimmy in for celebrations". Donegal Daily. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Gallagher delight at reaction to 'Jimmy's Winning Matches'". Hogan Stand. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  14. ^ "DDTV: Michael Murphy has The X Factor as he sings for Pettigo crowds". Donegal Daily. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Sam's world tour of Donegal finally arrives in Letterkenny". Donegal Daily. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Kilkenny players told to keep their hands off Jimmy!". Donegal Daily. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  17. ^ Dervan, Cathal (23 September 2012). "Shay: I'd trade it all for Croker medal: I'd swap it all for All-Ireland medal". The Sun. Retrieved 23 September 2012. Given has also added his voice of approval to Donegal singer Rory Gallagher and his Jimmy's Winning Matches tribute to team boss Jim McGuinness, which has become a huge hit on YouTube. He said: “I love the song, it's brilliant. A friend told me about it after the semi-final win over Cork and I've re-tweeted the link to everyone I know. “The song is great and I know everyone in Donegal will be singing it before the game and hoping the team lives up to the lyrics.
  18. ^ "Scottish Parliamentarian hopes to see Sam in March". Donegal Democrat. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Rory – "How Jimmy saved my life from spiraling out of control"". Donegal Daily. 17 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  20. ^ Harkin, Greg (16 November 2012). "'Jimmy's Winning Matches' singer Rory Gallagher reveals depression battle". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  21. ^ "Senegal Jimmy's protests as others cash in on his fame". Donegal Daily. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Donegal documentary on RTÉ". Hogan Stand. 20 December 2012. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  23. ^ "RTÉ to show Donegals' heroics in special 'Jimmy's Winning Matches' documentary". Donegal Daily. 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  24. ^ "Video: The teaser trailer for 'Jimmy's Winnin' Matches'". The Score. 3 January 2013. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  25. ^ "Video: Tuning into Jimmy's Winnin' matches tonight? Here's a teaser clip". JOE.ie. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  26. ^ Moran, Seán (5 August 2013). "Jimmy promises to find out why he's no longer winning matches". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  27. ^ "Jimmy's still swinging matches at the Ryder Cup!". Donegal Daily. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.

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