ULSTER CLUB FINAL SPECIAL: Scotstown - the Donegal connection

ULSTER CLUB FINAL SPECIAL: Scotstown - the Donegal connection

Over the years this newspaper has kept an eye on football and footballers from across the province, but in particular players from counties such as Tyrone, Fermanagh and Monaghan have caught the eye.

When it became apparent Scotstown would play Gaoth Dobhair in Sunday's much anticipated Ulster final, a link between Scotstown and one famed Donegal football family, the Murrays from Ballyshannon, had to be tested.

Sure enough, there is a link.

Brian Murray, who won an All-Ireland medal at midfield for Donegal in 1992, was cheered from the Hogan Stand that day by a certain Michael (Mickey) Forde from Ballinode, Scotstown.

Mickey is a brother of Brian's mother, Jean, and he holds the distinction of being the youngest man ever to captain a Monaghan senior inter-county team, doing so in 1961, in a game against Armagh.

Mickey's elevation to that role was based on his performances in the previous two Monaghan club championships, where his beloved Scotstown won back to back titles, 1960 and 1961.

Mickey was a flying forward on those teams and the Northern Standard reports this from his play during the 1961 final:

“The front line was completed by the up-and-coming Mick Forde, who often advanced outfield to gain possession and then split Blaney’s defence open with a great burst of speed and ball control. Forde’s point in the first half was one of the best of the hour.”

Sitting in their lovely home on the Mall in Ballyshannon on Tuesday night, Jean recalled watching Mickey and his brothers playing for Scotstown.

One of a family of eight, she has four brothers and three sisters, Sean played in goals for Scotstown from 1950 to ‘58; Eamon played from ‘58 to ‘59 before emigrating, Mickey hit the jackpot with two titles in his first two years, 1960 and ‘61.

He played on with the club until 1964, like his brother Eamon, and so many others, emigrating, in his case to Germany, while Eamon moved to London.

Mickey went on to do well in Germany, he had been in the Aer Corps and in Germany got into the aircraft leasing business, and that proved a very successful move for him.

NEPHEWS

Mickey’s three nephews, Brian, Alan and Val Murray all played with distinction for Aodh Ruadh, Brian’s inter-county career capped by that memorable day in September.

Jean’s husband, Aidan, a Monaghan town man - he played midfield for Monaghan Harps - recalls Mickey’s reaction that day in 1992: “He was a Donegal man that day, he had Brian’s Hanna hat on him and he kicked every ball.

“Monaghan people love their gaelic football and I'd have to say Scotstown were always a tight team, always hard, but they could play.

“Things may have changed with today’s game, but knowing my own county, I can only advise Gaoth Dobhair to be ready for a tight battle, they’ll get nothing handy from any Monaghan club team.”

Good advice no doubt!

When you study the success of the Forde family in sport, it’s easy to see how the DNA rubbed off well for Brian, Alan and Val.

Jean’s niece, Aaron McCarey played minor for Monaghan, u-15, 17 and 21 in goals for Ireland and got a senior call up in March 2018 for the friendly v Turkey.

Paul Forde, a son of Jean’s sister, Rita, played centre-half with Monaghan Town for years.