Anyone who hears the tale agrees it should be made into a film. It could well be, soon enough. The script needs little in the way of embellishment.

It’s 1964. Moville and Buncrana are in the midst of an arms race. The neighbouring Donegal towns are making preparations for their summer cup football competitions. Moville leads the way by a short head. A donkey, named after Irish Derby winner Ballymoss has been auctioned; for good measure a pony is put up for a raffle prize, just two of a number of schemes aimed at raising the £2000 prize money that has made Moville’s Kennedy Cup the pre-eminent competition in the north of Ireland. The Harp beer company has provided winners’ and losers’ medals, entrance has been set at 2/6 for the more than a thousand spectators who will turn up to watch that year’s final between Carfin Emeralds and Manchester Athletic.

It is the former who have created most of the buzz in the town. When they take to the Bay Field the Scottish players who populate the team are wearing wigs, face masks, false beards and boot polish. They have clearly gone to great lengths in an attempt to disguise their true identities. The Derry Journal would later report that the team line-ups from the Carfin team had mysteriously gone missing. It is not the first time Carfin have tried to win the Kennedy Cup; they’ve been trying for years. Rumours abound that this team has a number of up to nine Celtic players in its ranks.

Father Jack Gillen, whose family owns the Foyle Hotel in Moville, knows all about the Kennedy Cup and, now a monsignor in north Lanarkshire, has hatched a plan to raise some money for his Newarthill parish. The church is in need of some repair work and, sure, there are plenty of other uses for a sum of £2000 (about £35,000 today), the foreign missions for one and payments to the professional footballers that he is going to encourage to join his ranks for another.

It is not the first time Father Gillen has tried to get his hands on the prize money. In 1962, a Carfin Emeralds side containing the former Scotland and Newcastle United centre-half Frank Brennan lost in the quarter-finals to a team from Belfast. A report in the Belfast Telegraph suggests that one of the Carfin players threw a punch at a photographer from the newspaper “which destroyed completely the gimmicky carnival atmosphere Carfin may have tried to create”. A year later they reached the semi-finals when again they came a cropper.

In 1964, Carfin are a tougher proposition. In their first game, the Emeralds face the Tonnage Dockers drawing 1-1 before hammering them 7-3 in the replay; in the quarter-finals they see off a team from Derry while Neilly Mochan’s solitary goal in the semi-final against Foyle Rovers sets up a place in the final where they beat Manchester Athletic by a scoreline of 7-3. A day earlier, Celtic had played Aberdeen at Pittodrie where they won 3-1. Had they really made it all the way from the north-east of Scotland in time for the 3pm kick off in this corner of Donegal?

It all sounds faintly like a plot line from Father Ted, the more so upon the discovery that a team of priests once played in the competition. Their name was, of course, the All Blacks.

As novel as the Emeralds appeared, the presence of Scots on the streets of Moville was nothing new. Glasgow’s links to the Inishowen peninsula were longstanding. Nearby Derry operated a ferry route to Glasgow and the last sight departees would see from the boat would be the Bay Field which sat perched above the River Foyle. Jimmy McGrory, Celtic manager by the 1960s, had married the heiress of a cinema chain having stopped off in Moville on his return from a successful tour of the United States as a player in the 1930s.

While Eddie Mahon, the former Derry City goalkeeper and a regular summer cup participant for Inishowen United, says: “All through my youth, I went to the Bay Field and on holiday in those days, different from now, there would be about six Celtic first-team players there. John Bonnar, the goalkeeper was there, Bobby Evans – the half-back who would also play for Chelsea – was there. We would be down there with them kicking the ball about with great glee. Neilly Mochan [the striker] used to come over. He would be very familiar with the town.”

“People still talk about it and it loses nothing in the telling. Jimmy Johnstone is the one name that always crops up. That would have been maybe 1962. Maybe he was a kid coming through. It’s a bit like the Loch Ness monster – we’ll let the legend continue.”

Eyewitness accounts confirm that, over the years, a number of Cetic players – Johnstone, Frank Haffey, Charlie Gallagher, Harry Hood, Bobby Murdoch and Jim Kennedy – all played in Moville but who was on the pitch that day in 1964 remains a matter for conjecture and has taken on a mythical quality. Others such as Paddy Crerand, the former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder whose parents came from Donegal, adorned the colours of Kildrum Tigers, as did Charlie Tully, Hughie Higgins of Hibernian and John McCole, who would go on to play for Leeds United.

On the morning of the final, the town would be buzzing and as the crowds began to gather the players changed into their kit – one team in the backroom of a bar and another in the egg station of a nearby chicken farm. The battle would be ferocious so too would the drinking in the aftermath when the money was dished out.

The players were led on to the pitch by an accordion band; on that October afternoon, they cover their faces as an amateur film-maker captures the procession on a Super8 camera and with good reason.As Crerand says: “I wasn’t supposed to play. I was still playing when I was at Manchester United, you just played for the fun of it but if the clubs found out you would be in serious trouble. You could have broken your leg. Matt [Busby] knew that I was over but he just had a laugh about it. I played in that Moville competition a few times.”

Leo McAuley, a local estate agent whose father James helped to set up the Kennedy Cup, recounts a tale whereby the then Derry City manager, Willie Ross, chased the Celtic winger around the town attempting to get him to sign for his side but Jinky demonstrated his usual elan in escaping the attentions of a dogged pursuer. That Super8 camera footage appears to show Jinky wearing a ‘Robin-style’ mask. Others claim Jinky’s rust-coloured curls were dyed.

“A friend of mine who lives in Dublin is making a film about it,” McCauley tells me.

That friend is Tom O’Flaherty, once of Moville now of Dublin, who has worked as an editor on a number of sports and music films including documentaries on Dennis Rodman, the Ireland rugby team, David Haye, Van Morrison, U2 and The Chieftains.

“This is a first directorial project for me because I just happened to get my hands on the footage,” says O’Flaherty, a one-time Celtic season ticket holder. “I’m looking for funding but regardless of whether I get funding or not, I am going to make this thing. I’ve got a production company called Long Grass behind me and we are just finalising the budget.”

There is certainly plenty of material for O’Flaherty to work with evidenced by just one of the numerous stories he tells me.

“Albert Celtic won the cup one year and one of their lads went up the town and went on the tear. He was in his 30s, by all accounts a good player. He got drunk. Died, right? Sudden death syndrome or something. The boys from Belfast were like ‘what the f*** are we going to do?’ So they put his hat and coat on him and stuck him back on the bus to Belfast.”

O’Flaherty is in no doubt as to the competition’s significance. When it was replaced following the outbreak of the Troubles, it was swapped for a trophy in memory of father Jack Gillen’s brother, Eamonn, the owner of the Foyle Hotel.

“This is the reason I’m a Celtic fan. In about 1970 I saw the presentation of the Eamonn Gillen memorial trophy and Billy McNeill, Bobby Lennox and Jinky Johnstone were over in the Bay Field presenting that trophy,” says O’Flaherty. “I know that for a fact.”