Armagh’s famous family ties

Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship Final
Derry v Armagh
Sunday, O’Neill’s Healy Park, 2pm

By Shaun Casey

THE more things change, the more things stay the same. While Armagh haven’t had too much underage success in the last 15 years, plenty of onlookers from around the country will be familiar with a lot of the Armagh minor names, if not the faces. Some of the lads that are trying to earn a first All-Ireland title at this level since 2009 for the Orchard County have fathers, uncles and brothers that pulled on the famed orange and white shirt at the highest level, with varying degrees of success.

Conall Wilson

Both Conall’s father and uncle represented Armagh at county level and his uncle Conor also played in an All-Ireland Minor decider back in 1992 when the Orchard County came up short against Meath. Conall’s father David Wilson was a member of the Armagh panel that ended a 17-year wait for an Ulster title back in 1999 and was honoured as part of the 25-year anniversary at half time of this year’s Ulster final. David also has a distinct coaching CV built up over numerous seasons and he led St Ronan’s College, Lurgan, where he works as a teacher, to a Hogan Cup title in 2018.

Diarmaid O’Rourke

Son of the Armagh minor boss Aidan O’Rourke, Diarmaid has displayed plenty of the battling qualities that his father possessed all those years ago. Aidan was, of course, on the one and only Armagh team to land the Sam Maguire back in 2002 and he picked up an All-Star award for his contribution that season. Aidan’s bravery and kicking ability are mirrored in his son and Diarmaid, who also lines out as a wing half-back, is well fit to kick a score when presented with the opportunity, as he has demonstrated on a number of occasions throughout the championship this season. His uncles Cathal, Martin and Michael all represented Armagh at the highest level too.

Ross Marsden

Diarmaid Marsden will be hoping that his son Ross experiences a better All-Ireland Minor final than he did way back in 1992. Armagh reached the decider that year but just came up short against a Trevor Giles inspired Meath, losing out by the minimum of margins (2-5 to 0-10) in the end, with Diarmaid kicking 0-3 of their final tally. Ross Marsden has the shooting boots that his father has handed down and has that same desire for hard work that Diarmaid displayed during his playing days.

Keelan McEntee

The McEntee name is synonymous with Armagh and Crossmaglen GAA and the new generation is coming through the ranks thanks to Keelan McEntee, son of Tony. The McEntees, John and Tony, were the first ever pair of twins to win All-Ireland medals back in 2002 and both played their parts in landing the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time in Armagh’s history. The McEntees had unparalleled success at both club and county level and have had successful coaching careers since hanging up the boots. Keelan has the same languid style his father and uncle played with, and he has been one of the key men for Aidan O’Rourke’s team this year.

Shea Loughran

The Armagh minor captain comes from a line of Loughrans that have represented Armagh at the highest level. His grandad Peter lined out on the biggest day of all back in 1977 when Armagh reached the All-Ireland final for just the second time in their history, playing at corner forward. Unfortunately for the Orchard County, they came up short against a rampant Dublin team that captured the Sam Maguire on the day. Shea’s father, Peter Jnr, was a member of Armagh’s Ulster winning side in 1999 when they earned the Anglo Celt Cup for the first time since 1982.

Aodhan McGrane

Aodhan hasn’t quite been able to break into the first team but has been able to show flashes of what he can do when he gets onto the field. The Ballyhegan youngster is a nephew of former Armagh captain and perhaps the best midfielder the county has ever produced, Paul McGrane.

McGrane was the last Armagh captain to lift the Anglo Celt Cup back in 2008 and helped his county land their first ever All-Ireland in 2002, having lost an All-Ireland minor final ten years before that.

Aodhan McGrane is also the younger brother of current Armagh defender Peter McGrane, so the talent definitely runs in the family.

Stefan Forker

Forker is a member of Aidan O’Rourke’s management team and the Maghery man represented Armagh at minor, u-21 and senior level. He was part of the Armagh minor team that captured the Ulster title back in 2005, he helped land an u-21 provincial crown in 2007 and played senior football for a number of years as well. Forker is the older brother of current Armagh captain Aidan Forker, who made his inter-county championship debut way back in 2012 and this year has led the Orchard County to the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2005.

Also, check out this week’s Gaelic Lives podcast as Monaghan minor manager Dermot Malone looks ahead to Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor final.

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