Karl Lacey

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Karl Lacey
Personal information
Irish name Carl De Léis
Sport Gaelic football
Position Centre Back
Born (1984-09-10) 10 September 1984 (age 32)
Donegal, Ireland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Occupation Bank Official
Years Club
? – present The Four Masters
Club titles
Donegal titles 1
Years County
2004 – present Donegal
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 3
All-Irelands 1
All Stars 4

Karl Lacey (born 10 September 1984) is an Irish sportsperson who plays inter-county Gaelic football for Donegal. A much decorated individual, he has won four All Star awards—in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012—[1] and the 2012 All Stars Footballer of the Year.[2] His other accolades include an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, 3 Ulster Senior Football Championships, a National Football League title, a Dr. McKenna Cup, a Donegal Senior Football Championship and 3 Sigerson Cups.

Known as a versatile defender and one of the best half-backs in Ireland, Lacey is able to play anywhere in the back six. He is a consistent performer and never far away from another All Star nomination. However, his doctor has complained that Lacey is "flogged to the point of breakdown".[3]

Considered very influential by many young footballers, Lacey is usually to be spotted zipping around the field in his trademark white boots and white thermal shorts, and also dedicates time to voluntary work in aid of charitable organisations. Lacey's choice of shorts has been known to cause puzzlement among fans.[4]

Lacey put together a run of 41 consecutive championship appearances between the 2004 Ulster semi-final against Tyrone and 2013 Ulster quarter-final against Tyrone before injury broke his run.[5]

Playing career[edit]


Early years: 2003 – 2006[edit]

Much of Lacey's inter-county success came in his middle and later years. He was first called up to the senior team by Brian McEniff for winter training in 2003.[6]

Lacey played in the 2006 Ulster Senior Football Championship Final at Croke Park.[7]

Middle years: 2007 – 2010 (NFL success)[edit]

Lacey was part of the Donegal team that won its first National League title in 2007 in the final against Mayo.[8]

Later years: 2011 – present (All-Ireland success)[edit]

2011 season[edit]

The 2011 season began Donegal's renaissance under Jim McGuinness, an era for Lacey which coincided with his late career. Not only did he receive an All Star award and Ulster Championship medal in 2011, but Lacey also put in a number of great displays and usually kept each opponents danger man quiet while collecting a few scores himself. In the semi-final of the Ulster Championship, Lacey was deployed on Tyrone's in-form player, Brian McGuigan. Lacey excelled and kept McGuigan from having any real say in the game. Not only did he display his defensive qualities but he also showed his attacking side when he provided an assist for Colm McFadden's goal through a surging run from deep. He also set up the winning goal coming from Dermot Molloy which left the final score at 2–06 to 0–09. In the final they faced a strong Derry side, on-form after a huge win over Armagh. This time Lacey was deployed on another danger man, Mark Lynch. Donegal lifted their first Ulster Championship title in a number of years. Lacery received an All Star award and the Ulster Footballer of The Year Award.

2012 season (Footballer of the Year)[edit]

By kitting out for the 2012 Ulster Senior Football Championship Final, which his team won, Lacey made his 37th successive appearance for Donegal, beating the previous record set by Michael Hegarty.[9]

On 5 August 2012, Lacey surged up the pitch and scored the point that sealed Donegal's comprehensive victory over Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park.[10]

On 23 September 2012, he delivered a high ball towards team captain Michael Murphy who smashed the ball into the Mayo net after three minutes of the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.[11] He was also in possession at the final whistle and sent the ball clattering into the crowd with glee.[12]

Told he would be awarded the 2012 All Stars Footballer of the Year, he was in his car and nearly crashed.[13] Then Arsène Wenger sent him a personal letter "on behalf of all the players and staff" at Highbury House who wanted to "take this opportunity to send our congratulations on recently winning the All-Ireland football championship."[14][15] Then he had a hip operation and put his feet up at home for the Christmas.[16]

Tyrone spitting incident[edit]

Following a league game on 3 March 2013, footballer of the year Lacey was hit by some spit from the mouth of a Tyrone fan. Lacey was targeted as he left the pitch via the tunnel at Healy Park in Omagh. He had not been playing in the game due to a hip injury.

President O'Neill condemned the action against Lacey, "I have always said that any behaviour that makes anyone feel less good about themselves or about being involved in Gaelic games is abhorrent to me. I wouldn't condone that type of behaviour and to spit at anyone is disgraceful behaviour. I really cannot understand the behaviour of anybody who insults or demeans anyone. It has no part in Gaelic games. My message to those people is 'we don't need you'. I don't want them in our organisation and I don't want them going to our games. I would appeal to them to go and leave our games to people who want to come and enjoy themselves."[17][18]

2013 season[edit]

Following "spitgate" (see above), Lacey returned to training for Donegal on 30 April 2013 after attending a wedding in Malta.[19] He declared his fitness ahead of Donegal's opening Ulster Championship clash with Tyrone, though he did not start the game; instead Jim McGuinness sprung him from the bench in the latter stages of Donegal's victory.[20][21] Lacey then had keyhole knee surgery ahead of the Ulster semi-final against Down.[22][23] He missed the match, ending a run of 41 consecutive championship appearances stretching back to 2004.[5]

2014 season[edit]

2014 brought Lacey a third Ulster title in four seasons.[24] In the All-Ireland quarter-final against Armagh at Croke Park, Lacey was subjected to a vicious attack. During the same exchange the Donegal team doctor, Kevin Moran, was sent flying through the air, spiking a major reaction from national and social media.[25]

2015 season[edit]

Injured for the game against Galway, Lacey returned against Mayo.

Club, college, internationals[edit]

With his club The Four Masters, Lacey won the 2003 Donegal Senior Football Championship. He scored two-second half points in the final against Termon.[26] To date, he has collected one SFC, one U21FC and two MFC medals with his club. He went off injured at half-time in the 2012 Donegal Senior Football Championship semi-final against Naomh Conaill—and Four Masters lost.[27] In 2015 relegated to division 2 of the Donegal league in a play off lost to the mighty Realt Na Mara. Lacey captained Donegal to the 2002 All-Ireland Vocational Schools Football Championship, overcoming Kerry in the final. He won a Railway Cup medal with Ulster. At college level, he won three Sigerson Cup medals, one with UUJ[28] and two with Sligo IT.

Lacey has lined out for Ireland against Australia in the International Rules Series. He did so in 2006 and in 2011.[29]

Other interests[edit]

Lacey has participated in a marketing campaign for Ireland West Airport Knock. He says, "When the airport approached me about the ambassadorial role, I had no hesitation in accepting. As a frequent user of the airport I can see first hand the importance and invaluable role the airport plays for the region and it's a great asset for people living in Donegal and the North West region, providing employment, connectivity to over 25 destinations and so convenient, only a little over an hour down the road. I'm delighted to play my part in supporting the airport in this regard."[30] He graduated from the University of Limerick (UL) with a master's in sports performance.[31]








  1. ^ "Double delight for Donegal". Donegal on Sunday. 17 October 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Donegal's Karl Lacey is named Gaelic Footballer of 2012". BBC Sport. BBC. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  3. ^ McCoy, Niall (14 December 2012). "Time for a club GPA". Gaelic Life. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "The real reason why Lacey was "short-changed" at Croker". Donegal Daily. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Foley, Alan (20 June 2013). "Donegal v Down down the years". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Keys, Colm (5 November 2003). "Royals' seal of approval puts pressure on Boylan". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 5 November 2003. 
  7. ^ "Donegal 0-09 1-09 Armagh". BBC Sport. BBC. 9 July 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2006. 
  8. ^ "Donegal win National League title". BBC Sport. BBC. 22 April 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  9. ^ McNulty, Chris (July 2012). "Hail the history boys". Donegal News. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Lacey fires Donegal through to All Ireland semi-final". The Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Live updates from the All-Ireland finals at Croke Park". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Karl Lacey struggling to take in Donegal's All-Ireland triumph". BBC Sport. BBC. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012. "It hasn't really sunk in yet," said Lacey, who had the match ball in his hands when the final whistle was blown on Sunday at Croke Park. 
  13. ^ "Award was icing on the cake for Lacey". Hogan Stand. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Whooley, Declan (28 November 2012). "Karl Lacey gets fanmail...from Arsene Wenger". JOE.ie. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Keys, Colm (28 November 2012). "Gunners fan Lacey thrilled with letter of praise from Wenger". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Lacey ruled out for three months after hip operation". Donegal Daily. 23 December 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "GAA President condemns fan who spat on Donegal player Karl Lacey". Donegal Daily. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Spitting incident abhors president". Hogan Stand. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Donegal welcome back Lacey". Hogan Stand. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  20. ^ "Donegal's Karl Lacey declares fitness for clash with Tyrone on Sunday". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Ulster Football Championship: Donegal 2–10 0–10 Tyrone". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. By that stage, Donegal were emptying their bench with Lacey and Wherity among the arrivals and the latter was to score the second goal in the 49th minute which ultimately deflated the Red Hands. 
  22. ^ "Karl Lacey suffers more injury woe". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Lacey goes under the knife". Hogan Stand. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "Donegal reverse 2013 result to claim Ulster football title: Monaghan couldn't live up to last year's performance". The Score. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Reaction to attack on Donegal team Doctor". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "DONEGAL SFC FINAL : Masters marvels". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 13 October 2003. Retrieved 13 October 2003. 
  27. ^ "Molloy helps Naomh Conaill book a final date with St Eunan's". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. At that stage they led by 0–6 to 0–4, but they had lost the inspirational Donegal county star Karl Lacey to injury at half-time and Conor Rooney within five minutes of the restart. [...] But once they lost talisman Lacey, the Four Masters challenge seemed to dissipate and they were never a force in the game thereafter. 
  28. ^ "Karl hopes for better from Donegal". The Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009. Lacey played a key role in driving UUJ to success in the Sigerson Cup in 2008. 
  29. ^ "Australia 36–80 Ireland". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Donegal GAA stars join forces as Ambassadors for Ireland West Airport Knock". Donegal Democrat. Johnston Press. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  31. ^ Keys, Colm (11 August 2015). "Durcan's Donegal future in doubt as he plans move abroad". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  32. ^ "Donegal team clean up on Sunday Game Team of the Year". Donegal Daily. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  33. ^ "Karl Lacey is named Sports Star of the Year". Donegal Daily. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 

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