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Frank McGuigan of Tyrone: Sensational 1980's Football Talent
In 1972 a new football sensation from Ardboe,Co.Tyrone, took gaelic football fans on unique viewing missions of his exceptional skills as a midfield general in minor ranks. Also playing with Frank on the county minor team, was the Tyrone senior football manager,Micky Harte, who wore the No. 14 shirt. Tyrone beat Cavan in the 1972 Ulster minor football final 3 - 6 to 1 - 6 and lost to Cork in the All Ireland final 3 - 11 to 2 - 11.
In 1973 18 year old Frank was called into the Tyrone senior selection and with Ardboe as senior county champions, he was honoured with the county captaincy. At 18 he led his county to an 1973 Ulster title victory over Down 3 - 13 to 1 - 11 and football fans nationwide were waiting anxiously to monitor the progress of a new northern star.
A rampant Cork team had demolished Kerry in the 1973 Munster final and Tyrone were facing a county constantly embarrassed by annual failure to the Kingdom boys. Tyrone and Frank came to Croke Park for the All Ireland semi final and inevitably found a Cork team long overdue for an All Ireland title. Cork, in devastating form with the emerging Jimmy Barry Murphy in their ranks, ran up a high score to claim victory and went on to win the Sam Maguire Cup for 1973. This defeat set Tyrone on a downward spiral and in 1976 the Ardboe man emigrated to America where he remained until 1983.
In 1984 29 year old Frank McGuigan was back in Tyrone colours and playing inspired football and he faced near neighbours Armagh in the Ulster senior football final. Tyrone scored 15 points in the Ulster final and Frank kicked a majestic 11 points to secure a famous first Ulster title since 1973. Dublin were Tyrone’s opponents in the All Ireland semi final and defeat on a scoreline of 2 - 11 to 0 - 8 was another setback for the Ardboe giant. The All Star selectors in 1984 awarded the No. 14 jersey to the Tyrone ace marksman to seal a just reward for his gallant performances for Tyrone and also in Ulster’s great 1984 Railway Cup victory over Connacht.
Frank McGuigan, despite his American exile in the prime of his career, is a household name in gaelic football folklore. As a Club & County footballer, the Ardboe man ranks alongside the greats of gaelic football All Stars. His son, Brian, now the proud holder of an All Ireland senior football medal, ensures that the McGuigan magic is once more flowing sweetly around Ireland’s sporting green fields.
Derry JF Doody