May 01, 1992
Ace Derry marksman Enda Gormley
DERRY DESTROYER - ENDA GORMLEY IS GUNNING FOR TYRONE
Terrorising defences at inter-county level for the past seven seasons, Derry's Enda Gormley has a point-scoring record long enough to earn him a place on San Quentin's Death Row were it a criminal offence. Instead, he's at loose, with a deadly left foot, licensed to kill off the dreams of next-door neighbour Mister Tyrone in a head to head double duel over the coming weeks. As the league and championship shoot-outs beckon, Gormley's profile adorns every wanted poster in newspaper offices countrywide. The Derry Destroyer means business!
Despite only turning twenty-six, the Belfast-based banker is an old hand when it comes to seeing off an opponent. A prolific marksman, he's been off the boil recently. Trouble with the 'oul side-iron', you see, but now he's beginning to shape up sharp as 'erstwhile idol at Glen Mickey Moran. Enda Gormley is nobody's Mark Two Model, however, under-rated certainly but not under anybody's shadow.
Blood poisoning in the 'oul side-iron before Christmas threatened, however, to make his fateful duel with Tyrone's backline a non-starter. It was a piece of ill-luck which also has the more impetuous hacks searching for copy to write the Glen star off their wanted list. Like all cast-iron products, Gormley is made of tough stuff. One of three sons born to Joe and Bridie Gormley, Derry's ace free taker is a thoroughbred attacker, finely tuned but a quick healer. Recent performances against Cavan and Meath suggest he's near ready for the Derby encounter!
A loyal servant of the Glen club in Derry with whom he has won an Intermediate championship (1983) and senior league medal ('87), Enda Gormley has arguably been Derry's most consistent marksman ever since making his inter-county senior debut in 1985 in a league match against Antrim. It's a record marked by remarkably high scoring feats in 1987 and 1989 especially. One of the stars of the Derry minor team, which clinched the Ulster title back in 1984, his tallies in both the aforementioned years are worth noting in any analysis of the man's capabilities when blessed with his full health. A half forward in 1987 alongside Dermot McNicholl and Damien Barton, Gormley scored a massive twenty points on the way to helping Derry win their fifth Ulster title and their first since 1976. By far and away, he was the team's most prolific and potent score-getter that season. Similarly in 1989 when Derry reached the quarter finals of the National League, he was responsible for 2-21 of his team's 4-47 league total. A monumentally high solo percentage.
At the Glen club, the six foot former St. Pats Maghera and Polytech student is in good company. The Watty Graham based club which formerly boasted Seamus Lagan, Frankie Kearney and of course, Mickey Moran is proud to have four club players currently on the Derry side. Damien and Fergal McCusker plus Gary McGill will join Enda on the road to Dublin in the coming week, something which will be a first for the club since it's formation in 1947. Though never having won a senior county championship title, the club boasts a fine underage string of teams, all geared towards strengthening their long term Division One status, a goal which their four senior stars and promising minors such as Paddy Heaney look more than capable of achieving.
From his early days plying his skills with his native Glen, Enda McCusker's skills have been precisely honed by some of the best football mentors in the country. Belfast native Charlie Sweeney's work with the Glen team has been well known in county circles, while other gurus such as Adrian McGuckian at St.Pat's Maghera and later Eamonn Coleman at the 'Polytech have all contributed to masterminding Gormley's maturation as a supreme all-round footballer. Significantly Enda's last named mentor has pinned his faith in his Glen marksman by consistently handing him an attacking berth from the off although Enda quips "he knows me too well at times".
A McRory Cup, plus two Sigerson and two Ryan Cup medals to his credit, the opening of Glen's Graham Park grounds in 1982/3 highlighted for the first time his penchant for converting points from dead ball situations. Being labelled solely as a free taker is grossly unfair to the hard-working Derry ball-winner. "It's not a tag I'd like to be handed although being judged as the team's best free taker wouldn't be that bad I suppose, and the responsibility of it all wouldn't bother me", Enda confided.
A great leader on and off the pitch for Glen, according to club chairman Gerry McEldowney, Enda Gormley would dearly like to play at centre half forward for his county, but with the talent available to team boss Coleman, he's delighted to just made the first fifteen.
"The competition for places is unbelievable especially up front. Along with the six of us who lined out against Meath from the start, Dermat McNicholl, Damien Cassidy, Damien Barton, Declan Bateson and Seamus Downey are all fighting for their place. I'm just glad to be part of the Reckoning", admitted the corner forward who quite casually notched four points when pitted against Meath's Robbie O'Malley at Croke Park recently.
Gerry McEldowney appreciates Enda's personal qualities just as highly as his artistic impression on the field. "Enda has great heart, never lets the club down and is one of the first around to organise the young players or to look after the running of one of the club's social functions. Glen are proud of him and the other lads who are on the county team at the minute and players like Barry Young who were there in the past". Remarked the affable club chairman. Gormley's commitment to the cause is divided in equal quotients at both club and county level and fortunately for supporters of either team, the popular Enda has returned with venom after suffering the disappointment of being dropped for Derry's '91 championship encounter with Tyrone. Shrewd observers of his game reckon that he's coming into top shape at just the right time.
As for this year's Derry-Tyrone ties, very little will separate the teams at the finish, according to the Derry hitman. "There'll be nothing in it at the end but for both teams, psychologically, it will be important to win the league match. For both us and Tyrone though a defeat in the league final is bound to leave the losers with that wee bit more of an appetite for the championship match".
The victim of a bad knee injury in 1989 when playing against Fermanagh, thankfully poisoned legs and cruciate ligament troubles are a distant memory as the league and championship showdowns loom. A specialist ball-carrier and an innate self-belief which provides a buffer against less discerning spectators, Enda shrugs off any notion, as professed by Pat Spillane, that Meath didn't try too hard for the league semi-final tussle. "There's quite a bit of bad feeling up here about his comments but as far as I'm concerned I think he (Spillane) got it wrong. Meath appeared very keen to me", the 26 year old veteran explained.
A recognised "grafter", (not an overly common trait for a wing forward) a senior championship medal with his beloved Glen and Derry would cap an extraordinary high-profile career in the top echelon of domestic and inter-county football. It's an ambition which nips ahead of a Railway Cup place on the Gormley list of priorities. The onslaught of time has never been a problem for Enda Gormley though and neither has patience. Patience to replace the ball in the face of a whirling wind, patience to overcome serious injury and return with gusto, patience to take centre stage in a spectacular sporting double-header which will capture the attention of the gaelic world.
At no time in the past has Derry's county team been blessed with such naturally skillful and intelligent forwards as those presently jostling for first team places. It is said that the quality and potency of a team can be measured by the strength of the substitutes unable to win a place.
Enda Gormley admits that the pressure is on in the race for places. He'll grit his teeth, metaphorically pull up his socks if need be and dedicate himself to even using his right leg on the field of play. Now what more could Eamonn Coleman ask for!!
Taken from Hogan Stand Magazine 01/05/92.
Written by Kevin Carney.
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