During this period of enforced football inactivity, Linfieldfc.com will provide occasional programme articles on our former players.
The series commenced six weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past five weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee, Eric Bowyer, Tony Gorman and Lindsay Curry.
In this week’s article Linfieldfc.com reproduces a programme article from earlier this season in which the spotlight was focused on former player Damien Curran.
CULT HEROES – DAMIEN CURRAN
by James Kennedy
He’s currently a delivery driver, and on Boxing Day 2008 Damien Curran delivered at Windsor Park! Following two Glenn Ferguson goals, the icing on the cake in a resounding
3-0 victory was Damien’s shot from the edge of the box that sealed the win.
Damien says, “I signed for Linfield in 2007 and had the job of playing my way into the Clean Sweep side of the previous season. Living in Antrim, I travelled to training with Steven Douglas and Oran Kearney, and being with Dougie meant there were plenty of laughs!”
A young Damien started his football journey as an 8 year old playing in the Under 11 side at Antrim’s Greystone Rovers.
“I was there for two years before the team folded, then I played for Celtic Boys with players like Cliftonville’s Kieran O’Connor and Conor Hagan, who later was a teammate at Linfield”.
But it was while playing again for Greystone Rovers that the young midfielder came to the attention of cross channel scouts and, aged 14, Damien signed for Everton, having been noticed in a tournament at Whitley Bay.
“I was back and forth to Everton for a while, then when I finished school in 1998 I went over to Merseyside. I played under Joe Royle, Walter Smith, and David Moyes, so I had some famous bosses”.
After four seasons in teams that also starred Everton 1st Team regulars like Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert, Damien returned home
“Paul Munster’s granda got me fixed up with a trial at Glenavon, and there was interest from Belfast’ Big Two, but I signed for Newry Town who at that stage were managed by Alfie Wylie”.
Damien’s spell in the border city lasted five years before, in 2007, Linfield came calling again, and this time he signed for David Jeffrey’s side.
“I played centre midfield at Newry, but I was up against greats like Michael Gault and Paul McAreavey for a place at Windsor Park, so it was hard going at first. Then Oran Kearney got injured and I slotted into the gap on the left side of midfield”.
Even then it wasn’t all plain sailing for Damien as he struggled to adapt to his new role. But that goal in the traditional Christmas fixture at Windsor Park showed what he could do, and he went on to spend six seasons at The Blues, winning 4 League titles and 4 Irish Cups.
“I also had a decent spell at left back, and it was a pleasure to play just anywhere in that Linfield team. We bonded so well as a group of players, and the team spirit was second to none”.
After 6 seasons, Damien’s time at Linfield was up and he moved to Carrick Rangers under Michael Hughes.
“I had a knee injury and wasn’t able to train, although I did play regularly for Carrick. Michael Hughes was replaced by Gary Haveron, and at the end of my first season there I had an operation which more or less finished me as a player”.
Two years as a coach with Soccer Skills for All in Antrim, and a spell as Head of Academy at Ballymena Utd followed, but with three sons, family commitments took over, and Damien now has no connection with the local game.
“When they’re not on the X-box, my boys (aged 6, 11 and 15) play a bit of football, and I feel that I owe it to them to watch them as often as I can. Now my only link to the Irish League is the odd game with Linfield Legends. And I still meet up with my old Linfield teammates at social events, including the weddings of Aidan O’Kane and Steven Douglas”.