Remembering Carrick Vocational School's 1985 Markey Cup and the outsider at full-back


Remembering Carrick Vocational School's 1985 Markey Cup and the outsider at full-back

The Markey Cup winning team of Carrick VS

This week in 1985 Barry Campbell was preparing Carrick Vocational School for the Markey Cup final. They would go on to defeat Newry VS in Omagh on April 18 and become the first school from the county to achieve the honour.
Two of the team went on to win All-Ireland senior medals with Donegal at the opposite end of the field - John Joe Doherty and Noel Hegarty were full-forward and corner-forward respectively on the Carrick team. (Indeed, John Joe was a goalscorer supreme, netting 2-2 in the final).
And ironically at full-back was a 16-year-old born in Somerset in England, hardly a stronghold of Gaelic football as Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh would say.
Luke Aston came to Donegal as a four-year-old. "My father went to private school in England and then to Cambridge but wanted to get out of the rat race. He worked for a while with the Simon community in Liverpool before arriving in Glencolmcille as part of the Fr McDyer initiative.
"I don't think he actually did a whole lot with Fr McDyer.
"I was born in England and moved to Glencolmcille when I was four years of age. Apparently I was very unsettled by it but I have just vague memories of that. We had lived in Somerset before coming across. I always consider Glen as my home."
When the family re-located to Carrigaholt in Co Clare in 1987, the Aston family had grown in number to nine, five girls and four boys.
"My father's father was interested in sailing and my father had a grá for the sea. So he started fishing to make money and he also had a van, which was unusual for the time, and it was great for the lads fishing out of Port, getting a lift rather than having to go up and down on the bike."
Luke's parents are still alive and now living on Shirkin Island off the Cork coast, still close to the sea and "dad is still messing about with boats like a 21-year-old."
While his siblings were scattered for a while all but one are back in Ireland now with brother John making a name for himself in renewable energy.
"John did a degree in engineering and a Masters in hydrology and then got into water management and that went on into energy and wind power and environmental control," says Luke, who added that John was back now living beside him in Carrigaholt and has set up a company AstonEco Management giving advice on renewable energy.
Luke himself has settled in Carrigaholt as he married Mary O'Brien "a farmer's daughter" and they have three grown-up children, twin girls Ashling and Katy (26) and David (23). "Ashling is working as a physiotherapist in Beaumont while Katy wants to become a clinical psychologist. I reckon she will have her work cut out with our family, while David has finished a degree in economics in Galway and is generally stuck because of Covid. He is one of the many young lads of that age that are kicking their heels at the moment."
Luke was fishing commercially until 2004 before changing to a B&B, farm and angling business.
"And it was all going very well until Mr Covid arrived last year," quips Luke.
Going back to his Glen days, he is modest about his football ability.
"I was a good athlete but I would say not a great footballer but I was fit and strong. I would have went right through school from little infants with Noel Hegarty."
And what are his memories of the success in the Markey Cup in 1985: "I have very strong memories but they are individual memories rather than having things in order. We won U-16 that year as well and I was skipper. I think a Derry team beat us in Ulster. I remember going up to their school pitch to play the game and it was the best pitch I had ever played on.
"One of my big memories was of Barry Campbell and the way he coached football. It was different to anything we came across before or since.
"I did a bit of coaching afterwards and when I was ever asked why I got involved I always said that I had this teacher who had left an impression on me. It is one of the things I remember most about school," said Luke, who also starred at basketball under the tutelage of Barry Campbell.
Aston remembers, in particular, the U-16 county final in basketball that year when Carrick went to Falcarragh, who had employed a professional Dublin-based coach. "We went to Falcarragh and beat them in a real grudge match," adding that the Falcarragh teacher in congratulating Carrick on winning, also added that the standard of basketball was a bit lower that year than normal.
Luke recalls that with so much activity at football and basketball he was missing two and three days a week and he remembers asking Barry Campbell what the Principal Gerry Breslin thought of it, and Barry's reply: "Well for a long time he was giving out about the boys being away so much but now he is wondering if we can win it out altogether."
Aston would go on make an impression at county level with the Vocational Schools team and county minors.
"I won two Ulster Vocational medals in 1986 and 1987. I only played league games with county minors."
One of his other memories was the great clashes he had in training at midfield with big Damien Gillespie, who he quipped, "was all f------ elbows"!
But it could have been different but for the family re-locating to Clare in 1987.
"My father and mother had moved down to Clare in March 1987. I did my Leaving Cert in early June and left immediately after that. I never picked up my Leaving Cert results," he says.
He did continue his football career for a time in Clare joining the local club O'Currys but it was not the same.
"One of first memories was of training when I got down here. In Glen it was Tuesdays and Thursdays, you had to be togged out and on the pitch at the starting time, while here lads might turn up half an hour after training started.
"I then I broke my ankle quite badly and that was the end of my football career. I was married when I was 22 and I had been fishing from the time I was 19.
"I only got involved in football again when my son got involved. I coached a little bit of rugby with Kilrush," said Luke, who added that David won an U-16A championship with O'Currys, the only time ever the club won an A underage championship.
"So I have an U-16 county medal and he has the same. He is a better footballer than I was in fairness," adding that he is also a good rugby full-back and was involved for a time with the Munster Academy.
"I find it very hard going back to Glen because I have so many fun memories of it. Probably one of my best friends at school was John Cunningham. He moved to Sweden and got married to a Swedish girl.
"In fact I have more contact now through Facebook than I ever did," says Luke.
"I always kept a little bit of an eye on them and it is much easier now with social media.
"And to think that Glen has gone from being a senior team down to Intermediate. I remember training in Glen and there would be up to 50 lads training. When I was U-16 I was playing U-16, U-18, U-21 and junior football."
One wonders what would have happened Luke Aston if he had remained in Glen and Donegal. But those are the life stories that make this world the wonderful place it is.

Luke Aston with his son David

The memorable Carrick VS Markey Cup story of 1985 began with a home game against Killybegs VS followed by two big wins over Glenties Comprehensive and Abbey VS. They defeated Milford Convent 3-6 to 0-4 in the Co semi-final.
The Donegal final was against Pobalscoil Gaoth Dobhair, played in Kentucky in Ardara with Carrick winning a tight contest 2-4 to 2-1. Scorers were John Joe Doherty 0-3, Noel Hegarty 1-1, Mark O'Donnell 1-0.
In Ulster Carrick met Cavan Town VS and won comfortably 4-7 to 0-6 with scorers - John Joe Doherty 2-2, Noel Hegarty 1-0; Roger McShane 1-2, Mark McShane 0-1.
In the Ulster semi-final the opponents were De La Salle, Belfast with Carrick coming out on top 3-8 to 1-6. Scorers were Noel Hegarty 1-3, Damien Gillespie, John Joe Doherty 1-0 each, Roger McShane 0-2, Mark McShane, Steven McShane, Colm McGinley 0-1 each.
And in the Ulster final Carrick put in a great first half display against Newry VS to lead 4-4 to 1-1 at half-time and they held on against the wind in the second half to finish winners 4-5 to 2-4 with Roger McShane accepting the cup from Art McRory of Tyrone.
Scorers in the Ulster final were: John Joe Doherty 2-2, Roger McShane 1-2, Noel Hegarty 1-0, Mark McShane 0-1.
Carrick had just two days to prepare for the All-Ireland semi-final, but the short preparation time and the journey on the morning saw a tired team lose out to Edenderry 2-7 to 1-5. (Edenderry would go on to win the All-Ireland final, defeating Tuam 2-8 to 1-1).
Paul Carr, who would win an All-Ireland U-21 medal with Donegal in 1987 was part of the team which won the Donegal title but he was ineligible for the Ulster campaign because of age, but he was back in the side for the All-Ireland semi-final.

The Carrick VS panel which won the Markey Cup was: Declan McShane, John Paul Curran, Luke Aston, Philip O’Donnell, Sean Maguire, Donal Ó Donnabháin, Paul Carr, Enda McHugh, Roger McShane, Cathal Haughey, Mark O’Donnell, Damien Gillespie, Colm McGinley, Noel Hegarty, John Joe Doherty, Mark McShane, Steven McShane, James Sweeney, Aiden Burke, Declan Cannon, David O’Donnell, Barry Burke, Francis Byrne.

The caption for team photo is: Carrick VS, Markey Cup winners 1985. Back row: Aiden Burke, Declan Cannon, David O’Donnell, Damien Gillespie, John Paul Curran, Declan McShane, Luke Aston, John Joe Doherty (2–2), Donal Ó Donnabháin, Cathal Haughey, Philip O’Donnell. Front row: Steven McShane, Sean Maguire, Roger McShane (1-2), Colm McGinley, Mark O’Donnell, Enda McHugh, Mark McShane(0–01), James Sweeney, Noel Hegarty (1–0), Francis Byrne, Barry Burke.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email To contact Donegal Post, email To contact Inish Times, email

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.