Topman Toman... Frank Toman was the only player to win Hogan Cup titles with two different schools

Former Armagh star Frank Toman and his daughter Anna
Former Armagh star Frank Toman and his daughter Anna

CLANN Eireann’s Frank Toman, who passed away recently after a short illness, holds a unique place in the history of Colleges football as the only player ever to win Hogan Cup medals with two different schools.

He appeared from nowhere when, as a 14-year-old, he came on as a second half substitute in the Hogan Final of 1967 against St Jarlath’s, Tuam in Mullingar to help St Colman’s collect their first Hogan Cup title and fulfil a lifetime’s ambition for their mentor, Fr John Trainor.

He played alongside fellow county men, Jimmy Smyth and Noel Moore and Down stars, Peter Rooney and John Purdy. That same year, he was a member of the St Colman’s Ranafast Cup-winning side and in the following years added two more MacRory Cup medals to his collection.

At club level, he captained Clann Eireann to their first ever County Juvenile (U16) title in 1968, as well as collecting an Armagh Minor Championship medal with his club, the following year. His chance of collecting three medals in one year were thwarted by local rivals, Clan na Gael as they won that year’s Armagh Senior Championship in a local derby. But he was still only 16!

1968 was almost a momentous year for the young Lurgan player, as he was on the Armagh minor team which won the Ulster Championship with a win over Derry.

It was noted that the kick outs from the curly haired corner-back were going further than those of double All-Ireland medallist, Dan McCartan, full-back on the Down team which defeated Cavan later on that day! He displayed his usual vast array of skills on the day: impeccable fielding, excellent timing and vision and unerring accuracy with hand and foot.

This did not go unnoticed and scouts from Glasgow Celtic and an American football outfit were despatched to acquire the skills of this talented defender, but were sent on their way by his father, who saw his future talents in an Armagh jersey.

His studies then took him to Belfast and to St Mary’s where, with another group of talented footballers, he entered the history books, by being the only player ever to win a second Hogan Cup medal, scoring 1-4 in the final against Colaiste Iosagain.

His masterly display in the Hogan Final was only surpassed by his role in the MacRory Final in Davitt Park in Lurgan, where he played a pivotal role by his unique ability of appearing to have so much time on the ball, also scoring 1-4.

His father’s hopes were fulfilled when he was a vital member of the Armagh side which reached the All Ireland Final against in 1977 in which he appeared in the second half.

As well as continuing his football with Clann Eireann, he took up rugby with Lurgan Rugby Club and seamlessly fitted into the full-back position. When studying for his Accountancy degree in Belfast, he also lined out for Civil Service.

He continued his rugby career when employment with the family firm took him to England, turning out for Derby until the tender age of 50, as well as playing for local GAA club, St Joseph’s.

His son, Rory, as well as being a talented rugby union player, who represented Derbyshire and has an All-England medal with Derbyshire Colts, on a team managed by Frank. Rory also ensured that another member of the Toman family has a Gaelic Football medal which he won with the University of Teeside.

His daughter Anna is an England hockey international who won gold with the Great Britain team at this year’s Commonwealth Games.

In later life, Frank devoted himself to the leisurely pursuit of fishing. Needless to say, he excelled and the fish in the neighbouring Derwent River never really stood a chance. In fact, he landed a salmon which he presented to the local club to prove that salmon had returned to the Derwent River.

In the company of his family, he passed away on Sunday last. His last conversation was that it was Sunday and “a lovely day for a Gaelic match”.

When his wife Janice asked him which he loved the best, fishing or Gaelic Football, Frank replied: “Fishing was personal, Gaelic was my team sport!”

He was a team man to the end!

Ni bheidh a leitheid ann aris.