By Kieran Murphy
IN some respects you good say former St Patrick’s and Carlow footballer Pat ‘Fred’ Doran did OK out of his club and intercounty playing career. Yet he readily admits he would have liked to have won a little bit more. He had a number of defeats which were hard to swallow.
On the other hand he loved playing football and soccer. He is definitely one of the sport’s good guys. Better known by his nickname, Fred, which he carried for no particular reason other than everyone was given a nickname.
“Dillo, Psycho, Clonk, Banner, Curly. I was nicknamed Fred after the dog,” he says.
He played underage football and soccer in Tullow winning an under-11 league. The medals were presented by Offaly 1982 All-Ireland medal winner Liam O’Connor. The Dublin and Kerry games of the 70s and early 80s inspired young footballers all over the country around that time.
His route to a place between the sticks came much the same way it happens with nearly all goalkeepers. Someone else didn’t turn up.
“I had played outfield up to when I was 11 or 12. Brother Nicholas put me in goal. I wasn’t taken it out of it since,” says Fred.
In 1989 he featured in an All-Ireland Vocational Schools final with Tullow CS but they were edged out by Dungannon of Tyrone 1-9 to 1-4.
His next piece of silverware arrived from an unlikely source.
“We had so many heart-breaking days with football. We had a 1990 minor hurling B final win over Palatine.”
‘Be careful what you wish for’ could well have been his motto after that success.
“The following year we played ‘A grade’ where we met St Mullins down in Bagenalstown. We were 1-1 up inside a few minutes but we lost 6-17 to 1-1. I was captain but that was nearly the last hurling match I ever played.
“Football and soccer after that,” admits Fred.
In 1987 Tullow had won an intermediate football title and they held their own at senior for a spell after that. By 1989 Doran was being earmarked for a place in the senior squad. He was only 16 going on 17.
“In 1989 Tullow juvenile soccer club won a Carlow juvenile treble in the Regional College Carlow.
“I was in goal for the under-17s and I had to leave at the end to go straight to the county grounds for the seniors where I was sub goalie to Larry Reilly. Tullow won against Kildavin (0-9 to 1-5) with Larry Canavan scoring a 50 in the last minute. The following week they played Éire Óg.
The late Jim Kirwan called Doran during that week and told him to come to training Tuesday night. He said I wasn’t to miss any more training sessions.
“You are in goal for the senior team now,” Kirwan told him. Doran was still only 16 years of age. He remembers Tullow didn’t let the YI’s have it all their own way.
“Éire Óg won 1-5 to 0-1. Tom Begley scored the first ever senior goal I ever let in with his left foot with the last kick of the game when one of our players dropped the ball.”
It probably would have been closer if the challengers hadn’t had two players sent off that day.
In any other era Doran would possibly have played plenty of times for his county but Carlow were well served by Joe Broderick (Tinryland), John Kearns (Éire Óg) and Paudge McGrath (Clonmore).
“I got into a trial game with Joe Broderick. It was down in Tipperary with Joe in goal for the first half and I was put in for the second half.
“Joe stopped rockets, bullets. He was brilliant. I was in for the second half but for luck I didn’t have a lot to do. I think it ended in a draw.”
Doran played in 1992 against Clare in the league. That didn’t go well.
“They were good. I remember running out the field with the ball, gave a bad pass to one of our players and they intercepted and lobbed a ball over my head as I ran back into goal. I was on the line for the next game,” he says grimly.
That year he missed a penalty in an under-21 club championship game against Éire Óg. Also in 1992 Slaney Rangers (Kilbride/Kildavin) beat Tullow by 3-8 to 2-10 in the senior championship.
“They got a late goal. That was heart-breaking. That was a really good Tullow team,” recalls Pat.
In 1993 the Slaneysiders made it to the U21 final but were ousted 0-10 to 0-5 by Rathvilly for whom Sean Kavanagh and Noel Doyle were outstanding.
At senior level in 1993 St Patrick’s were drawn against Éire Óg in the first round of the senior championship.
“They beat us 4-14 to 0-1. We went back the following year to intermediate and we joined up with Grange to become Slaney Rovers.
We beat Slaney Rangers (0-10 to 1-4 in 1994) and were drawn against Éire Óg in the quarter-final. When the referee turn didn’t turn up, local man Christy Neill took charge. Éire Óg won 1-12 to 1-4. There was compensation when St Patrick’s won the 1995 Division 2 league final.
There was one rocky spell with St Patrick’s where he played for two years in Shillelagh (2000 and early 2001). They got to a Millennium Cup final in Wicklow, losing to Baltinglass.
Around that time he almost joined Baltinglass when the late Bobby Miller met him in Tullow and asked him would he transfer.
He was in two minds but the decision was made for him the following Sunday when he played soccer with Parkville in Baltinglass.
“There was a big row in the match and it was abandoned. That was the end of me going to Baltinglass.”
2001 for Doran was a bit like a curate’s egg. Partly good and partly bad. Back in St Patrick’s, they won the intermediate championship beating Éire Óg by 1-8 to 0-10 in the final. Doran played the first half where his long kick-outs into the wind were vital. James Clarke played the second period. That had been agreed before the game and while it worked well it was a strange way to win an intermediate medal.
Doran played the entire final in 2005 when the club won the intermediate again, beating Leighlinbridge. They say you only get out what you put in, but that year St Patrick’s were focussed from the very start of the year and were rewarded when winning the league before clinching a wonderful double.
“We had a meeting at the start of the year. 33 lads turned up with Kevin O’Brien from Baltinglass in as trainer. We gave it a lash. January came and O’Brien had us running 5k and 10k out the roads around the town. The whole town didn’t know what was going on with over 30 lads running up and down the roads. I was on a bike because I couldn’t run on the road.
“Even though it was 1-9 to 0-8 we were well on top in the final. They had beaten us in the league game by a point. It was the most enjoyable year I ever had.”
In some ways Doran was ahead of his time when it came to planning his kick-outs.
“I had a massive kick-out but at 18 I hurt my knee and only had a good kick-out. I was accurate and could land a ball on a player’s chest nearly 50 yards away. I was more confident than anything,” he recalls.
Ultimately injuries called time on his career. Nothing extraordinary, but a career which gave him much satisfaction.
“I had a lot of injuries but I enjoyed it. That is the main thing. If you get some silverware, it is a bonus. There will be great days and not so great days. It goes quick enough,” he acknowledges.