I won't reject Fermanagh call again, says St Michael's Hogan Cup winning captain
Brandon Horan wouldn't be the first schoolboy to be called into a county senior panel.
However it seems an inevitability that the victorious St Michael's Enniskillen Hogan Cup winning captain will hook up with Rory Gallagher's Fermanagh squad ahead of their Ulster Championship meeting with Donegal on May 26.
The Enniskillen Gaels lad is a big presence around the middle of the field and his ability to win marks from St Michael's own kickout was a feature of Saturday's Hogan final win over Naas CBS and the MacRory final on March 18 over Omagh CBS.
His talents have been well signposted, as he revealed an approach had been made to him during last summer as Fermanagh made it to a provincial final.
He said: "Rory (Gallagher) asked me onto the panel last summer, I was playing for Enniskillen Gaels seniors. I just said to him 'Rory, I have MacRory this year, I've my A-levels, I'll not be able to commit'.
"I thought it was a wise decision and Dom (Corrigan, St Michael's manager) was saying to me it's the best decision to make, because I gave my everything for the school and thankfully it's paid off."
As to whether he would accept the offer if it was made to him now, he replied: "Definitely. Fermanagh football, that's where you want to be, representing your county. All going well, I'll rest for a bit and set out my options after. So hopefully I'll be there."
Fermanagh would have a fairly strongly-rated midfield at present with Eoin Donnelly and Ryan Jones.
And while there are no guarantees that Horan would play Championship, he is mature enough to say he doesn't believe he is ready for that level of football, although his manager Corrigan stated that he is all set.
"Personally no," said Horan, "because I don't think any 18-year-old is ready for senior football no matter how good they are, but I'm just delighted for this team and I'm focusing on the school at the moment.
"I haven't really thought about it, but it's definitely an option."
The college team, rather unusually for St Michael's that normally gets a sprinkling of Trillick players from Tyrone, was made up exclusively of players from Fermanagh, prompting Horan to remark: "No Cavan, no Tyrone players, just Fermanagh. I saw an article that Fermanagh football is really booming at the moment, you see the seniors going well and unlucky not to get to the Division Two final.
"It's definitely booming at the minute. We've great youth and we knew we had a good team this year. A lot of those boys are lower sixth, they'll be pushing on next year. It's definitely a great time for Fermanagh football."
Turning his attention back to the first-ever Hogan Cup to come back to St Michael's College, Enniskillen and Fermanagh, Horan added: "It's been a year's work. We all set out from the start to win the MacRory first and after that looking to get a Hogan.
"To finally do it, it's just the best feeling ever. I know people say that, but it truly is. Everybody is buzzing in there."
St Michael's had travelled to Dublin on the Friday, spending some time in Croke Park 24 hours prior to the match and stayed at the Castleknock Hotel. They also had the benefit of a skilled backroom team. Conor Laverty, the Kilcoo and former Down footballer had a huge influence on the team in terms of preparing the side and analysing the opposition through their run this season.
It led to unrestrained emotion at the end.
"I hoped for scenes like that," said Horan.
"To put it into reality, it's just unreal. Dreams come true and it's the best feeling in the world.
"We knew it would be a tough game, we knew Naas would be a tough side. They won their semi by six points as well.
"We were coming off the back of a great semi as well, but we knew we'd have to put in a performance.
"We felt in the first half we were lucky to be two points up, but the character in the team, you've seen throughout Ulster and MacRory, we've always bounced back from setbacks. It has paid off."
And they had to do it the hard way, rattling off 1-1 in two minutes after they conceded the first goal of the game to Naas.
"It was a mistake, but the character in the team we learn by mistakes, we don't worry about them or let them phase us. In the MacRory final, they got two goals in quick succession, but we bounced back.
"It's a credit to the team, the amount of characters and leaders in the team. I'm just one leader out of 15, and the subs too," Horan added.