Bellew was an ‘icon’ – Benny Tierney

Francie Bellew was an ‘icon’ according to former Armagh goalkeeper Benny Tierney.

The Mullaghbawn native appeared on the ‘Comhrá le Tomás’ podcast, hosted by Kerry legend Tomas O’Se.

Bellew guarded the last line of the Orchard defence during the 2002 All-Ireland winning season.

The Crossmaglen full back had just joined the Armagh squad that season, under new boss Joe Kernan.

Tierney believes that if anyone else had of been in charge at the time, Bellew wouldn’t have played county football.

“He became an icon in Armagh. It was just phenomenal,” said Tierney. “It was the fact that he was so quiet and the fact that he’d only appeared on the scene.

“And his pattern of play, it probably went back to the ‘50s or ‘60s the way Francie played.

Francie Bellew was an 'icon' in Armagh

Breaking ball

“Nobody tried to change him, but you knew what you were going to get. If the ball broke, Francie would be on top of it, he’d be on top of you.

“He would hit you in training the same way he would hit you in a football match, but he wasn’t dirty.

“People had this sort of impression that Francie was a dog and like a Mick Lyons type character, who was robust and physical.

“He wasn’t like that but when he hit you, you stayed hit. A very quiet character who’d only just came into the panel.

“That’s the other side of it, Francie had only just joined the panel and probably wouldn’t have joined the panel if it was any other manager, Francie would’ve never have come.”

Bellew finished his Armagh career with one All-Ireland medal, five Ulster titles and a National League in 2005.

Bellew came on the club scene during Crossmaglen’s most successful period and won it all in the black and amber.

By the time the full back had hung up the boots for the Rangers, he’d won 13 county titles, seven Ulster’s and five All-Ireland crowns.