GAA Football

Fermanagh, Tyrone, Monaghan and Down players included in Dominic Corrigan's Best 15

Dominic Corrigan has picked his best team from the players he played alongside and managed.
Pic: Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

THE brief was to pick his best side from the men he had played alongside or managed and Dominic Corrigan has chosen a team made up of men he lined out alongside with Jordanstown and Fermanagh during his playing days and those he went on to manage at club and county level.

The result is a line up he says he would be happy to “take on any team at club or county level with”. Andy Watters spoke to the vastly-experienced St Michael’s CBS football guru.

1 Pat Donnan (University of Ulster)

PAT is from my Jordanstown days. The role of the goalkeeper has evolved and changed dramatically since then but back then Donnan used to tell everybody that the small rectangle was the ’keeper’s area and it was a no-go area for everybody else. He controlled it very well. He had a tremendous kick-out and at that time kick-outs, and getting distance on them, was the big thing. He had a safe pair of hands, he was very brave and very a good shot-stopper. Some goalkeepers tend to be a bit fearful when traffic comes in around them but Donnan was the opposite, he was fearless when the traffic was about him.

2 Marty Swift (Killyclogher)

HE was my captain in 2016 when we won the Tyrone championship. An outstanding corner-back, hard as nails, a great tackler, he had a great technique in tackling. He played for Tyrone as well when there was no such thing as blanket defences and you had to win your man-on-man battle. He was a superb defender and he still has a lot to contribute to Killyclogher. An automatic choice in this team.

3 Barry Owens (Fermanagh)

I HAD him at St Michael’s and then at Fermanagh as well. He really shone in those early years when he came into the Fermanagh team. He got two Allstars and he probably would have had more if he hadn’t got a few injuries. He was brilliant in the air, he attacked the ball very well and the thing that will always stand out to me about Barry is that when he got the ball he could stride out with it – a few big strides from Barry could take him 30-40 metres. A powerful full-back.

4 Ronan McGarrity (Carrickmore)

A FAIRLY unsung player in Tyrone circles but in Carrickmore he was outstanding. A real leader with a brilliant brain and, looking at the modern game, you would be hoping that the corner forward would go out the field and you would put Ronan in to sit in front of the full-back line. He could read the game very well, he had great hands and he was a great foot passer.

5 Tiarnan McCann (Killyclogher)

PACE and power. People can have this idea of Tiarnan as a fancy player but I found out very quickly when I went to Killyclogher that he is a very hard, tough player. He can play it any way you like - if you want to mix it with him, he can do that. If you want to play football, he could do that. His ability to get forward at pace, take scores and create scores makes him an outstanding wing-half back.

Killyclogher clubman Tiarnan McCann in action for Tyrone. Picture by Philip Walsh.

6 Declan Loughman (Castleblayney)

I COACHED ‘Blayney in 1999/2000 and we won championships there. Declan was the first man that I came across in management as being that real leader. Castleblayney was one of my first jobs in club management and Declan gave meaning to that term ‘a spiritual leader’ of the team. He played for Monaghan for a long number of years under Sean McCague when they won Ulster titles. He was strong, he was brave, he held the centre and he would be the first man on your teamsheet any day you went out.

7 Conor Gormley (Carrickmore)

YOU could put Conor anywhere in this defence. He had fantastic technique in his tackling, he was teak-tough and a brilliant passer of the ball. That was the thing about Gormley, people talked about the negative side of his game where he could stop forwards but he could also set up the play very well. There are some defenders you don’t like to see getting the ball in their hands but you always wanted to see Gormley on it because he could pick out a pass to the forwards, he could go forward himself and kick points. Just a superb player.

8 Marty McGrath (Fermanagh)

A POWERHOUSE in the middle of the field for Fermanagh for a long number of years. Strong, good in the air, powerful on break ball, he would put his head on the block at any time. A forklift or a digger couldn’t stop him! He was a massive presence in midfield and an automatic choice.

9 Paul Brewster (Fermanagh)

I HAD the pleasure of working with Paul for a few years in Fermanagh and he was a really strong, powerful and inspirational player in the middle of the field. He drove the thing on for his team-mates and he was fearless – strong in the air and good on the ground. He played the holding role around the middle because he wasn’t, by his own admission, the most accurate when he got forward. So he would have played the holding position and he was a brilliant midfielder.

10 Raymond Gallagher (Fermanagh)

I BELIEVE that Fermanagh players are as good as any about and this team shows it. This might raise a few eyebrows in that he’s not in the inside line, but in the modern game I’d be putting Raymond out at the edge of the blanket. He had a fantastic ability to kick points from distance. In the modern game you’d be playing Raymond out around the fringes, not inside where he’d be blocked up. You’d get the ball to him because he had a fantastic left foot on him. He was superbly accurate from 40-45 metres and that is a quality that is not often seen in footballers nowadays.

11 Peter McGinnity (Fermanagh)

A MAN I played with on the 1982 Ulster final team. One of Fermanagh’s best-ever players. I could have played him at midfield but he was excellent at centre half-forward, a bit like Raymie Gallagher he that fantastic ability to kick points from distance. He also had a wonderful eye on him to pick out that killer pass to the players inside. Brilliant in the air, a fantastic kick-passer and one of the best players to have played the game. An automatic at number 11.

Peter McGinity on the attack during the Ulster final between Armagh and Fermanagh in 1982

12 Vinny Corey (Clontibret)

I ALWAYS played Vinny around the engineroom and it didn’t matter where you put him around the middle eight, he always had the happy knack of being where he needed to be. He was able to get up and support the attack and he was always able to get back and help out the defence. He was one of those wing-forwards who would be tracking back down the pitch. A stopper but very creative as well and a good passer. It was no surprise that all during Malachy O’Rourke’s great success with Monaghan Vinny Corey was an integral part. For me at Clontibret he was a powerful presence when we won our championship in 2014.

13 Mark Bradley (Killyclogher)

THE Lionel Messi of the modern game. That year we won the championship he was just on fire and everybody will remember his performance in the final replay against Coalisland when he gave as good a forward display as you could hope to see. He has the ability to kick scores but more importantly for a small man his movement is fantastic and his bravery and his courage was admirable as well. A fantastic player and I look forward to seeing him get back up to those levels again soon because Mark Bradley in full flow is a joy to behold.

14 Steven Maguire (Fermanagh)

AN unheralded player who wouldn’t have got the limelight that other players did. But Steven was a brilliant full-forward in that he was an excellent targetman, he was very mobile, he was a great ball-winner but he also had a fantastic ability to kick points. He was so accurate from frees but also from play and that’s what I admired about Steven. He was a massive presence in around the square but for a big man he was so, so accurate from play. He didn’t rely on free-kicks to get his scores, he got them from open play and he was one of the top full-forwards in Ulster for a long number of years. He didn’t get the credit for it but he’s on my team and I’m delighted to be putting him in at number 14.

Stephen Maguire takes on Armagh's Francie Bellew

15 Conor McManus (Clontibret)

HE was my captain in 2014. What can you say about Conor? He’s a fantastic all-round footballer. His ability to come up with scores is amazing. I remember a point he scored from the terrace side in Clones when we won the championship against Scotstown. It was away out on the ‘45’ at the McGrane Stand side – who else could have scored from there? He had that ability to kick a wonderful score and there was more to it than just the one point on the scoreboard. It lifted the team. He also had the ability to win dirty ball. At one stage of his career he could have been marked out of the game but he developed, he learned, he got cute and he became the type of player who could do it any way. If you wanted to mark him rough-and-tumble he could sort that, or if you wanted to play football with him of course he could do that as well. He is a wonderful, all-round footballer and one of the best who has played the game.

Overview

I have picked players that could be classed as really naturally gifted footballers. I always look for that player with flair and quality as that always wins out in the end especially when it’s mixed with that hard-edged fearless attitude that all those players picked there have/had in spades. I have never, or will never sacrifice that quality of footballer or that style of football for the more system-based manufactured style that has been common enough these past number of years.

I hope I haven’t created loads of enemies for myself here! When I sat down to pick this team I thought to myself: ‘God almighty, there’s men here and there’s men there I could pick’. There’s the likes of Eugene Young (Bryansford and Down) at corner-forward and James Devlin (Moortown) in midfield from my Jordanstown days and there are countless others. I could pick another team next week and arguably it would be as good. But I would be happy to go out any day with this 15 and take on any team at club or county level with them.

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