Tuesday 24 April 2018

Tributes pour in for Alex Ferguson's legendary Irish talent spotter Joe Corcoran

Joe Corcoran pictured in 2009
Joe Corcoran pictured in 2009

John Fallon

Joe Corcoran, best known in Irish football as long-time scout for Manchester United, passed away yesterday following a short illness.

The 73-year-old had represented United in Ireland since the mid-1970s after the legendary Billy Behan head-hunted him from Huddersfield Town to concentrate on identifying youngsters capable of cutting it at United.

He ensured the club's Irish links were maintained. From Kevin Moran right through to Robbie Brady, Joe was responsible for recommending a number of players who would go on to make the Red Devils first-team.

It was John O'Shea - who, alongside Alex Ferguson, he helped convince in 1998 that Manchester United was a better option than Celtic to pursue his professional career - who constitutes his most successful export to Old Trafford.

Ferguson developed a strong relationship with his Irish scout within months of his appointment in 1986, with their friendship enduring right up to Joe's final days in St James' Hospital.

The last phone conversation between the pair last week recalled the many memories they enjoyed, both in football and the horse-racing circuit they shared a communal passion for.


"Joe did tremendous work as a scout for Manchester United and was hugely influential in getting them to open the Aviva Stadium against the Airtricity League XI in 2010," said FAI chief executive John Delaney.

"He'll be a huge loss to schoolboy football in Ireland and the game as a whole. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and we will honour Joe at the Georgia game."

The talents of Joe in football were not confined to scouting. A postman by trade, the first signals of his penchant for influencing young players emerged during his time with the Bolton Athletic in his native Ringsend, before he moved to nearby Cambridge Boys, a club he remained active in until illness set in over recent weeks.

The Dublin District Schoolboys League (DDSL) would benefit from his legislative skill too, firstly as a committee member and then long-serving chairman from 1987 until 1999.

During that period, he also served as Chairman of the Schoolboys FAI (SFAI), FAI Youths and Leinster Youths.

"Joe will be sadly missed by all in Irish football," said Fran Ray, secretary of the DDSL and a friend of Joe's for several decades.

"In all my years in football, I've never met a man like Joe Corcoran."

Funeral arrangements are expected to be confirmed today.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam

Irish Independent

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