Monday 23 October 2017

Where are they now?

Ray McCarron
Ray McCarron

Ray McCarron (Former Monaghan footballer)

When Ray McCarron moved from England to Scotstown in Monaghan he was 16 and far from an experienced Gaelic footballer. He'd played a bit in England but not a huge amount; in fact most of his time was spent playing soccer. But his lack of experience didn't hold him back and very soon after settling into a new town he was playing for the Monaghan minors.

Being part of such a successful club helped his development and football quickly became a way of life. At 20 years of age he was called into the Monaghan seniors, it was a big step up but a challenge he relished. "Even having come from Scotstown where we had a good club team, the step up was still very noticeable," he says.

"Especially when you were playing championship football, there was even a big difference between that and league football. The physical side was tough too but the Monaghan full-back line were basically the Scotstown fullback line so I'd had a lot of training against them and it was a good learning curve."

McCarron made his debut in the McKenna Cup in 1983 and they won the competition, beating Down in the final in Newry. The following year the Centenary Cup was held and Monaghan reached the final but lost out to Meath.

"We got to play in Croke Park a couple of times and that I think was the turning point for Monaghan football at that time. We went on to win the National League the following year and then an Ulster title after that."

McCarron played for Monaghan until 1996 adding another Ulster title and an All Star to his repertoire. And as well as experiencing success with his county, he also had a very good club career. He played in eight county finals and was lucky enough to win all of them. He's now involved with another Monaghan club, Curran, which his son and daughter play for but he still follows Scotstown. He'll be in St Tiernach's Park for the Ulster quarter-final against Ballinderry, and is hopeful his former team will progress.

"The pressure is off Scotstown now that they have won a championship after 20 years of trying. The Ulster club will be a new experience for them, it's a big step up and they are coming up against a very experienced side. But they will give a good account of themselves and I wouldn't be surprised if they win."

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