THE community of Strabane this week remembered one of its most gifted footballing sons, Adrian Doherty, who passed away 20 years ago after tragically falling into a canal in Holland.
Doherty was hailed as a footballing genius and at the tender age of 14
had been snapped up by Premiership heavyweights and boyhood heroes Manchester United,
The exciting attacker played in the same youth teams as Ryan Giggs,
Paul Scholes, the Nevilles, Gary and Phil and quickly marked himself
out as a star of the future with many believing the Tyrone teenager to
be better than Giggs.
In March 1990 Sir Alex Ferguson named the Strabane lad in his first
team squad and it seemed it was only a matter of time until the
lightening quick winger would establish himself as a household name at Old Trafford
However Doherty suffered a cruciate ligament injury in an A game
against Carlisle which ruled him out of football for seven months. The joint buckled again on his return and when he attempted another
comeback a year later it was clear that he was no longer the player he
The eccentric Doherty, who loved poetry and music, ultimately drifted out of the game after making three appearances for Derry City and passed away on June 9, 2000, the day before his 27th birthday, after falling in a canal in Amsterdam, where he had gone to work for a furniture company just a month earlier.
It was a tragic end for a player who had one time appeared to have the world at his feet.
Marty Gormley, recently-appointed coach at Strabane Athletic and well known personality in the town said he hadn’t known Doherty but had seen him playing in a select match at the Brandywell before joining United.
“That was the only time I saw him playing for a Derry City Youth
select against a Home Farm select,” recalled Marty.
“If my memory serves me right it would have been an under-13 or
under-14 game and he scored three or four goals in the first half and
they took him off. He never appeared for the second half.
“The next I heard he was away to Manchester. I didn’t know him but
what I saw of him that night you could tell he was something very,
very special. He was obviously an exceptional talent.”
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