Forker enjoying minor management role

Stefan Forker didn’t know what to make of things when Aidan O’Rourke’s number flashed up on his phone, asking him to get involved with the Armagh Minors.

The 2002 All-Ireland winner contacted Forker the same day Maghery and Dromintee met in the championship. Forker questioned the legitimacy of the call, but O’Rourke knew his man and after weighing up his options, Forker decided to give it a go.

“To be honest, it was going to be a no because I still feel I have a lot to offer playing,” said the Maghery man. “With a young family and stuff, it’s hard to juggle it all.

“I just thought that Aidan’s been about, he knows what he’s talking about. It’s something that I want to go into (coaching). I want to learn my trade off Aidan and I am. I offer my bit but I’m in to listen as well, and it’s been working well.

“I’m enjoying it and the group that we’re with, they’re like sponges. It’s just pure honest hard work. You could ask them to run to Dublin and they would do it. It’s my first coaching job and I’m enjoying it so far and learning as we go so it’s all good so far anyway.”

Stefan Forker didn’t know what to make of the phone call when Aidan O’Rourke asked him to get involved with the Armagh Minors.
Photo Credit: Finbar Burns

Familiar foes Tyrone

After three league games, Armagh earned two wins but an opening round defeat to Down is the only blot on their record. It was enough to send them into the Shield competition and after an easy win over Antrim, they now face Tyrone in the final.

Forker, a teacher in Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, knows a number of the Tyrone’s players personally. “I would know a few of the boys, I took the MacRory Cup team this year,” added the two-time SFC winner.

“I live in Tyrone, and I would know Tyrone football as much as I know Armagh football, I’d probably know more about Tyrone. Even today I was teaching a few of the boys in school but it’s like everything else, there are no secrets.

“I know them, they know our boys, everybody has got videos, and everybody knows each other inside out. It’s not what you know it’s whether you can do anything about it. It’s on us and what we bring to the table, you alter bits and pieces but ultimately, we’ll be sticking to our game plan.”

Stefan Forker didn’t know what to make of the phone call when Aidan O’Rourke asked him to get involved with the Armagh Minors.
Photo Credit: John Merry

Underage success

There has been little underage success in the past few years for Armagh and this current crop are hoping to change that. Since winning the All-Ireland Minor title back in 2009, Armagh have only reached three Ulster finals in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Forker was part of the Minor side that claimed an Ulster title back in 2005. They followed it up two years later, winning another provincial title at u21 level in 2007. While developing footballers ready for senior action is the main focus, winning is still a priority says Forker.

“Once I got involved, I didn’t realise how uncompetitive they were,” said the 2020 Club All-Star of Armagh’s recent minor record. “That’s not down to past managements or anything, that’s just the nature of it.

“It’s nice to be competitive and going to a league final, it’s the Mickey Harte mantra of going to every game to win it. We’re in the developmental stage but I think you develop better, and you enjoy things more when you’re winning.

“We’ve had a lot of friendlies and that and you’re always looking for performances, but a win is a win. Every game we’re going to play, we’re going to be out to win it.

“Hopefully on Saturday, we’re always out to win and this time you might get a bit of silverware which is always a bonus.”

Stefan Forker didn’t know what to make of the phone call when Aidan O’Rourke asked him to get involved with the Armagh Minors.
Photo Credit: John Merry