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Fyffes Fans Favourites | Ciaran Toner

// 13 May 2020

Who is your favourite Dundalk player? What was your favourite season? Who would you consider a cult hero? What was your favourite European tie?

We want you to tell us in our new series, Fyffes Fans’ Favourites, where we ask Lilywhites fans of all ages to share their special memories from their time supporting the club. If you would like to take part, feel free to drop us a line on one of our social media channels.

Second up in the series is Fr Murray Park native, Ciaran Toner, pictured above in Luxembourg before our Europa League tie with CS Grevenmacher in 2010.

Dundalk fans anxiously wait for the title celebrations to begin at Oriel Park in 1995.

First Season?
I can’t really remember when I started going to Oriel. My dad would have taken me and my brother in the early nineties. I know for sure that I was there in ’95 when we won the league. I was a ball boy that season but for the last game I was in the Shed and I remember Tom McNulty scoring and us all running onto the pitch at the end. We all waited on the other results to go through and I remember James Coll lifting the fake trophy because we didn’t get the real one!

Favourite Player?
Stephen O’Donnell. He epitomised the new breed of professionalism when Stephen Kenny came in. I didn’t like him when he played against Dundalk. He was always in the ref’s ear and was always snarky and a bit moany but I think we needed that and he led by example and brought everyone up a notch. I think he’d easily have got into any Dundalk team from throughout the years.

Favourite Moment?
A toss-up between the win over Cork in 2014 or the promotion in Kildare in 2008. I’ll go with that night at Station Road. I was working in Dublin at the time and I got the train down. There were nearly two or 3,000 fans in the temporary stand. We did what we had to do by beating Kildare but it’s my favourite moment because it only happened in the last few seconds. It was in the days before smartphones and Twitter and there was a lot of fake news going around throughout the game that Limerick had scored against Shelbourne at Tolka Park but we ran onto the pitch thinking that Shels had got the result they needed to win it. Then, we heard about Limerick’s equalise and we went from despair to joy in the space of 10 seconds!

Michael Duffy scores Dundalk’s second goal past Sergei Lepmets of Levadia during the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round Second Leg at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Favourite Goal?
Michael Duffy v Levadia Tallinn. I watched it from my normal place in the five-minute stand. Sitting of course as it was a European tie. I remember Jamie McGrath floating in a cross and thinking that if Duffy could take it down and get a cross in …..oh my God he’s scored! Van Basten-esque.

Favourite Kit?
It’s between the 1988 kit and the more recent black and gold GNR kit. I’ve seen all the pictures of 1988; Barry Kehoe and Alan O’Neil in the Swedish goalkeeper jersey. The club brought out a retro version of it recently and the fact it sold out straight away shows that it struck a chord with supporters. It also has the big Harp sign on the front so I’ll go with that!

Favourite Cup Final?
There’s a lot to choose from but I’m going to go with the FAI Cup final in 2018. I had to work in 2002. Otherwise, it would have been that one! Before 2018, all of the previous finals with Cork went to extra time. We were the better side in the majority of those games but we just didn’t have any luck in the finals that Cork won so for Patrick McEleney to score the winner in 90 minutes and prevent it from going to extra-time and penalties is my favourite cup final memory.

Cult Hero?
I racked my brains and couldn’t think of a cult hero so I’ll go with a cult player: Mickey Collins, who was signed by Sean Connor back in 2009. A lot was promised when he signed but he couldn’t play because of a mistake with his international clearance. That meant he had to wait six months before he could start a game! There was a lot of hype and anticipation and he started well – I remember he got man of the match against Derry City – but it just didn’t last! There were a few red cards, too many, and he was a symbol of what went wrong under Connor.

Mickey Collins. Picture: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Favourite Away Trip?
Cork in 2014. I went down with a couple of friends of mine from Dublin who are Cork fans. The train broke down and I didn’t think we’d make the start of the game. We did but the problem was I had to go into the Cork end with the old enemy! Richie Towell put us ahead and they equalised in the 83rd minute but Brian Gartland popped up with the winner. It was the moment when we started thinking ‘this is our year!’

Favourite European Tie?
BATE in Tallaght. I booked the day off work and got the bus up with a load of other fans. We should have been down and out after the first leg but we got back to Tallaght and the whole team stepped up. To go in as underdogs and beat a dominant BATE team who were constantly in the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League was a sign of our intentions for that season.

All-Time Starting XI?
There were a lot of challengers for the goalkeeper jersey but I went for Alan O’Neill. He was the first ‘keeper I really remember and I love that picture of him in that Swedish jersey with Barry Kehoe after winning the FAI Cup in 1988. At left-back, Martin Lawlor, with over 400 appearances was a beast. He led by example, was a ferocious competitor and apparently his speeches are stirring! I went with John at right-back as he is, I think, the only Dundalk-born player to captain the side to a league win. He was also my U13 manager at St Dominic’s so maybe that’s my bias showing through! I’m up in Belfast now so I try to listen to as many games as I can on Dundalk FM with him and Gerry Cunningham. Tommy McConville and James Coll are my centre-back pairing. In my opinion, Tommy Mac is probably the second-best player from Dundalk. The best will come later on. On the right-wing, Jimmy Dainty was before my time so I asked my dad who he would have gone for and Jimmy was the one. A fast, direct, skilful who scored goals and won trophies. He’d be the standout winger. On the left-wing, I’d go for Daryl Horgan, even though he’s recent enough, just ahead of Brian Byrne. Barry Kehoe and Stephen O’Donnell would be in the middle. Barry was probably the best Dundalk-born player that we’ve ever had. A great player who could do everything. My two forwards are Jimmy Hasty and Turlough O’Connor. Turlough was a great player with Dundalk and that would have been enough to get in anyway but the fact that he then went on to manage us as successfully as he did seals it.

All-Time XI: Alan O’Neill; John Murphy, James Coll, Tommy McConville, Martin Lawlor; Jimmy Dainty, Barry Kehoe, Stephen O’Donnell, Daryl Horgan; Jimmy Hasty, Turlough O’Connor.