Club All-Stars – Brian Fox

Maghery picked up seven All-Star awards after a hugely successful 2020 while their clubman Aidan Forker was awarded County Player of the Year.

The Senior Player of the Year gong also made it’s way to the Lough Shore as Brian Fox was rewarded for a fantastic year.

Even when Maghery weren’t in flying form in the early stages of the championship, Fox was the man who stood out.

His goal in the county final was crucial in keeping his side in contention during the opening period before pushing on to lift the Gerry Fegan trophy.

“I wasn’t expecting it (to win Player of the Year), if you were talking to me this time last year, I don’t think I would have been setting that on my target list for the season.

It’s unbelievable to be honest. Playing with boys on our team, I’m just happy to get into the 15 so to get into the 15 in the county and then to get this award, it’s humbling”.

Maghery secured their maiden championship triumph in 2016, in a year when Fox didn’t feature in the blue and yellow.

He was determined to get over the line while on the field of play and defeating old rivals Crossmaglen in the showpiece added to the occasion.

“I think after we had won it the first year and we had come back and disappointed on the big day in the (2017) final, a lot of boys maybe let the head drop a bit We’d been on a long road for a while and we just felt that we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to get out of it”.

“A couple of years there where we didn’t push on enough and this year then, to get through again, especially when you beat Crossmaglen in the final.

It probably does mean that wee bit more, just to solidify that this is really a great team, not just a great Maghery team but it’s a great footballing team, there’s a lot of great players there”.

A huge part of their success story has been the appointed of Finnian Moriarty, who came in to manage the side in 2019.

He won the Senior League title in his first year, but Crossmaglen ended their championship progress with a semi-final victory.

Finn Mo and Maghery bounced back in 2020 and Fox was full of praise for his managers influence on him personally and on the whole team.

“Finn’s come in there and he’s had a hard act to follow with Shane (McConville), another brilliant manager, and he’s just continued on from where we left off. He’s really looked into the team and the personalities there and he’s tried his best to make it work for every player.

Particularly with me. I’d probably put a lot of this award down to Finn Mo, I think he’s helped me get to another level with Maghery”.

It’s a Maghery team full of leaders spread throughout the field and that experience is certainly something that helped them get over the line.

“I would probably put it (Maghery’s success) to the boys before me, there’s age groups there that have been pushing that since I was probably in school and looking up to them.

They’ve been playing, James Lavery and Stephen Cusack and boys like that, they’ve been playing for years and leading the whole thing on. I think that leadership throughout the whole panel is probably what sets us apart”.

Fox was in fantastic form throughout the championship and found the net twice across his sides four championship outings.

He ended the season as Maghery’s second highest scorer with 2-5 to his name, with only Aidan Forker scoring more.

“I definitely always like getting my name on the scoresheet. I’m maybe not a Stefan Forker or somebody that can swing points from the sideline but anything I can do, I’m happy to come off the pitch and I’ve been fouled ten times and we scored ten points from the frees.

I’ve got a bit of a run going on the goals so hopefully that will keep up for a bit longer”.

As Fox wasn’t involved in winning Maghery’s first championship crown back in 2016, he didn’t get the chance to display his talent in the Ulster Club Championship.

They defeated Ramor United of Cavan in the opening round that year before coming up against an experienced and superior Kilcoo in the semi-final.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions last year the Ulster Club Championship didn’t take place, disappointingly for all of Maghery

“On a personal level, having never played at that level the last time we won it, it would have been great to push on. I think we were getting into a real vein of form; we were getting better and better with each game last year.

I went to school in Dungannon, you’d have been playing against a lot of guys that you’d have went to school with, but you just have to do it all over again maybe”.

Maghery’s victory will work wonders for the youngsters around the club, insists Fox as well as the whole community.

“There’s nothing else, you’ve got the park and you’ve got the pitch and you’re playing football in one or the other.

If it’s not football it’s nothing, it has to be football. I think the community really rally around the football team, it lifts all the players to see the videos coming out around the match, to see the primary school, everyone gets so excited.

Especially last year, when there wasn’t very much to get excited about and it was bad news around every corner.

For the younger people, it’s definitely set up there to say, ‘it is what you make of it’. Okay it mightn’t always be a team like this Maghery team, but it’s just the camaraderie in that Maghery team and the community that we’re so isolated there, it means a bit more I think.