May 01, 1992
Derry's Tony Scullion and Ger Reid Armagh
Tony "Scud" Scullion
Aiming to shoot
down Tyrone on Sunday
Tony Scullion is the current 'old man' of the Derry team, he was thirty on 6th February, the boyish looks and ultra pleasant countenance belies his maturity. In his nine seasons at the top level he has achieved a lot and there's more to come. The Scullions are tough country folk, Tony is in his prime.
When Tony Scullion was selected by manager Sean O'Kane for the Derry under 21 team in 1983, he was virtually unknown outside of his own parish. O'Kane's judgement was good and a new Derry star was born. Tony was 21 when he first wore a Derry jersey. Proof indeed that you don't have to be a high profile underage player to make it to the top. Indeed, Brian McGilligan didn't even get on that Derry team.
There are players who can be coached in the skills of the game but Tony is one cited with that most important ingredient, judgement. His anticipation is uncanny, his timing perfect and to complete his vocation as an outstanding comer back he has amazing acceleration. To his team mates in Ballinascreen he is known as 'Scud'. Nobody knows where the name came from. Indeed, it has been suggested that the Scud missile used in the Middle East War was named after him.
Tony was educated at Moneyneena Primary school, the school which produced the noted writer Owen Kelly sits on the edge of the pleasant hamlet nestling at the foot of the Sperrins. Moneyneena was reputed to be the last Gaelic speaking area in Co. Derry. Apart from the normal school curriculum they have what most Ballinascreen boys desire in the playground - set of Gaelic posts.
He was small for his age but his tigerish play often saw him take on and beat the bigger boys. He graduated to the St. Colm's High School in the town some two miles away. Again he did well at sports but size was always a handicap. After leaving St. Colm's he spent a year at Magherafelt Technical College.
It was when he started work with a local building firm Heron Brothers that Tony began to fill out. Still he failed to make it to the County minor team, they said he was 'just too wee'. Like a plant that had not been watered he seemed to sprout when he started employment. Soon he was a strapping 5' II", 12 stone lad ready to take on the world and lick it.
The family had a great interest in Gaelic games, his older brother Danny played for Ballinascreen and has been deeply involved in club affairs. Danny is also the long serving secretary of the South Derry Board. John, like Tony came on the scene late, indeed amazingly late. He claimed a regular spot on the club senior team in 1990 and played in the County final against Lavey. Not many players make their senior county debut at 29!
Derry's under 21 campaign in 1983 took them all the way to the All Ireland final. They beat a Kildare team of high repute at Clones before going on to meet Mayo in the decider at Carrick- on-Shannon. A late Damien Barton goal gained Derry a draw but they surrendered a five point lead in the replay at Irvinstown and lost by two.
From there it was straight into the senior team and action in the Centenary Cup, Derry reached the semi-final after beating Cork and Kerry along the way. Monaghan put a stop to their ambitions after extra time at Crpke Park. In 1987 he was at corner back when Derry beat Armagh in the Ulster final.
He had an outstanding game and was accorded Man of the Match. Meath proved a stumbling block in the semi-final.
By now he was an automatic choice for Ulster, along with Brian McGilligan and Dermot McNicholl he was selected for the All Stars. The town of Draperstown (Ballinascreen) was bedecked with bunting to acclaim their favourite son. Two tours of duty against Australia in which he was outstanding were futher highlights of a glittering career.
His skills were not devoted to the football field, as a hurler he gave outstanding service to Ballinascreen and Derry. he helped Derry to make the breakthrough to Division two and was never overawed against the likes of Cork, Clare or Laois. Over the past couple of seasons he has
confined his hurling to club level. He has played in four county finals but has yet to finish on the winning team. Even in defeat in the 1989 final he was voted the game's outstanding player.
Six days after celebrating his first wedding anniversary he went on to experience his first victory with a Derry team in Croke Park. Last April he wed the charming Siobhan Deery, a local girl. They now live in the town.
Loyalty to his club and county have been among the outstanding qualities of one of the most popular players ever to don a Derry jersey. Modest and unassuming to the point of shyness, he leaves an outstanding impression wherever he goes. The 'wee boy' has got it right. Who would ever have through that the little lad from Carnmoney Lane would end up an international sportsman with 4 Railway Cup medals and indeed captain Ulster and Derry. That he would hurl for his county and be an All Star footballer.
Next Sunday at Croke Park 'Scud' will be hoping to shoot down Tyrone in the same manner as he did Meath in the semi-final.
Taken from Hogan Stand magazine
1st May 1992
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