Philip struck gold in 2002


Philip Loughran was always going to be a Gaelic footballer. His father Austin represented Armagh at minor level and his mother was one of the Carr family from Granemore. And so it came to pass that the Clady clubman would take his place on the Orchard County side that won the Sam Maguire Cup in 2002.

The 33-year-old currently plays his club football in Antrim with St Brigid's Belfast and is part of the Lagan Construction Company, currently working on the A8 Belfast to Larne dual carriageway project.

"It's my second year with St Brigid's and we are playing in the intermediate championship and Division Two of the league. It's going well. I've been living and working in Belfast for nearly three years now, so it made sense to transfer. I have settled well into the club and hopefully I'll play for one more season if the body is fit for another preseason training program. If I get one more year, that will do me, then I'll look at doing a bit of coaching."

Philip hasn't played for his hometown club in six years, having been based in Scotland for a few years before settling in Belfast and resuming what has been an incredibly successful career.

At intercounty level, Philip Loughran represented Armagh at minor, U21 and senior levels. With the Armagh seniors, he enjoyed a superb innings, garnering three Ulster SFCs and one national league title as well as the aforementioned breakthrough All-Ireland victory of '02. He also picked up three Railway Cups along the way.

"I'm happy enough with that," he quips. "All in all, I played for the Armagh seniors from 2002 until 2007. I couldn't have timed it better. It was a great team to come into. It will be difficult to assemble a team as good as that one in the county again.

"However, since Kieran McGeeney became involved in the management, they are more focussed and organised and are starting to compete with the top teams again. There are signs that Armagh are getting back to the same mentality and commitment that was there in 2002. Kieran is bringing that back. He is a leader of men on and off the field; everybody looks up to him and recognises his commitment and love of the sport."

While the 2002 All-Ireland success was monumental and will never be forgotten, did that superb Armagh team perhaps leave another couple of All-Irelands behind them? "We definitely left 2003 behind us due to a couple of small mistakes and bad decision making. There was only a kick of the ball between us and Tyrone in the All-Ireland final. However Tyrone went on to prove that they were worthy champions, winning 3 All-Irelands in 6 years. The following year, we lost to Fermanagh by a point in an All-Ireland quarter-final and Fermanagh were subsequently beaten by Mayo after a replay. Mayo lost the final to Kerry. We were caught on the hop by Fermanagh that day and I genuinely think we could have beaten Kerry if we'd reached another All-Ireland final."

In his capacity as a site agent with Lagan Construction, with whom he has been employed for nine years, the former Armagh midfielder is currently working on the new A8 dual carriageway linking Belfast and Larne, which bypasses the villages of Ballynure and Bruslee. The £105m project will provide a 14.4km roadway from Coleman's Corner Roundabout to the Ballyrickard Road.
It's a historic project; just like Armagh in '02.