In the run up to Town’s third appearance in the Irish Junior Cup Final former Town favourite Michael Farry remembers the clubs historic victory over Junior football kingpins Oxford United in May 1994. Micky was one of the star performers on that unforgettable day in Loughgall.
Who was/were your most difficult opponent(s)?
I can remember two very tough opponents on the road to the final. Lurgan Celtic were very physical opponents on what I remember was a wind-swept day in Lurgan. They were well fancied and I remember our midfield of Sheridan, McClintock and Henderson had to draw on some of their less finer skills in the second half. They were tough opponents but great hosts and the bus trip home was memorable for all the wrong reasons! The other most difficult opponents were Grove United whom we played under lights in Portadown in the semi-final. It was played at a much faster pace than we’d experienced up to that point. Combined with playing under lights it felt like a proper professional level contest. They were a good Belfast outfit and rumour had it they had a few ringers in their team that night. The win that night gave us great confidence going into the final.
What is your earliest memory with the Town?
I can recall my first practice sessions as an under-12 with wee Paul but my most clear early memory was lining up at centre-half in front of Paul “Striker” Howe and putting Beckett through for about 6 goals against some suspect opposition in McManus’ field in Kilmacormick! I probably played well that night but the real class act was sweeping up behind me.
Favourite player of all time is…………?
Town player, that’s a tough one. As a 15 year old, I made my debut in what was a Town team of big characters and some great players. Brendan Lyons had more time on the ball than any defender was supposed to have but my favourite Town player of all time would have to be Jim McClintock, good feet, an eye for goal and tough in the tackle…modest as well.
Biggest regret with the Town is……….?
The club has remained true to its values of developing talent and playing attractive football and I’d like to think the current setup has ambitions for the future so, no regrets.
As a member of the original Junior Cup winning team against Oxford what do you remember about the game?
The first game flashed by in a second. I don’t remember much of the game but I do remember feeling nervous, shattered after 10 minutes and generally off the pace before being replaced. Again, the level of performance required from us was up another notch on the semi-final. Oxford were a class outfit with Junior Cup medals galore. I remember thinking the pitch was small and there was no time on the ball. The replay provided for a much better memory. I was determined to make up for my performance the first time out and along with the rest of the back line of Breen, Murphy, Dolan and Branley it felt like they wouldn’t score. We were much better prepared for the replay and with the pace and guile of Rory Judge and Damian Love upfront we were always going to sneak one. I don’t remember much of Judgey’s run and winning goal as Murphy probably had us pushing up for off-side!
At what stage of the competition did you think Town were capable of going all the way?
That run in the competition provided for games against quality opposition, teams that were competing at a much higher level than us. I think we were quietly confident of our ability to compete and at times our pride got us through games but the Junior Final was completely new territory for the club. A number of players on the team had sampled football in the Irish League and League of Ireland but I think most of us were just focussed on winning every game. We had a great season that year and the Junior Cup capped it.
Comparisons have been made of the 94 and 07 teams and who was the better of the two! In your opinion who was the better team?
I was at home to watch the game in 2007 and remember the Town were much the superior team on the day, true to the club’s traditions of blooding youth and playing good football. I’ll not comment on the comparison between the teams except to say that the ’94 team were much better looking and the craic we had in Reihill’s was always worth the sore head the morning after.
Fondly remembered as a classy right back with the club and known to score the odd goal. Do you remember much about the two you scored against Banbridge in the 2nd round?
I was studying hard in college at the time so needless to say, my memories are a little hazy. I remember Busty [McClintock] asking me if I fancied pushing upfront. He was a shrewd manager…
Can you name your best Town 11?
Maguire, Lyons, Murphy, McClintock [Jim], Corrigan [Ozzie], Howe [Paul], Henderson, Love [Damian], Love [Jack], Judge [Rory], Beckett
Finally, any words of wisdom for the lads on 4th May 2009?
Back yourself and enjoy it!