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Local players star on TG4’s ‘Underdogs’


IN THE MIX Blake Forkan from Kiltimagh is one of the players featuring on ‘The Underdogs’ TV show. Pic: Sportsfile


Ger Flanagan

EAGLE-EYED viewers who tuned into the new series of hit TG4 TV show ‘The Underdogs’ last Thursday night may have spotted a few familiar faces.
Most notably Blake Forkan — formerly of Kiltimagh GAA club fame but now a member of St Eunan’s in Letterkenny – along with Ballaghaderreen forward Cormac Doohan; both of whom have been selected in ‘The Underdogs’ squad as they prepare to take on a top inter-county team in a challenge match next month.
Both players impressed ‘Underdogs’ coaches Paul Galvin, Ray Silke and Valerie Mulcahy during their trial games and were the only two men with Mayo GAA connections to make the cut.
Goalkeeper Forkan featured prominently on the first episode of the new TV show last week. He spoke candidly about the issues he experienced after suffering a serious injury before he turned his focus back to football.
“I think I got to the depths of where I was because my injury [torn achilles] coincided with missing the All-Ireland Junior club final with Kiltimagh [in 2009],” the 28 year-old told The Mayo News. “It was the biggest day in our club’s history and missing it kind of destroyed me mentally.
“I retreated into myself and comforted myself with food and stopped exercising, until it suddenly hit me that I needed to change.”
Forkan, now living and working in Letterkenny, slowly introduced himself back into the game through soccer and eventually earned a call-up to the Mayo Junior side.
That exposure to inter-county Gaelic football convinced the talented goalkeeper that he could hold his own at a higher level, so when the opportunity arose to sign up for ‘The Underdogs’, he jumped at it.
“I had no idea that I was going to feature so prominently in the first episode,” he laughed. “I was watching it with my family, smiling to myself and taking it all all. It was nice to see Mum and Dad and my girlfriend, Lorna, come across so well in it so I was delighted.
“This is now the next step on my journey. It’s 100 per cent my ambition to play inter-county football.”
However, Mayo supporters will be disappointed to hear that Forkan has also transferred at inter-county level and is pushing to impress Donegal boss, Declan Bonner.
“It may sound funny that a Mayo man wants to play for Donegal, but that’s the way my life is at the moment.”
Doohan just fine
THE same can’t be said for Ballagh’s Cormac Doohan, however, who hopes his performances can influence a call up to the Mayo senior squad.
Although he reckons he ‘got away lightly’ in last Thursday night’s episode, we have a feeling we may see a lot more of the Dublin-based teacher in the weeks ahead.
“I did it because I want to challenge myself on the football field,” he said. “Everyone’s ambition is to make it onto the county senior panel and I suppose I wanted to try and see if I would be good enough to make it.
“Come next year you never know what might happen. I would be confident that I have something to offer and look, if I don’t achieve it, you can’t be given out to for putting yourself out there and doing something.”
The 26 year-old has had a busy summer juggling the Underdogs series as well as his club commitments with high-flying Ballaghaderreen . Only last week he started teaching in Lucan, and is on the look out for a job closer to home.
But he is happy to report that it hasn’t affected Ballagh’s drive for the championship this season.
“In fairness to the organisers, if there is something clashing with the club, club always comes first,” he said. “A few of the club-mates were throwing a few sly digs here and there, and it will be interesting to see how the slagging goes over the next few Thursdays.
“But it’s been all good humoured. I haven’t been eliminated yet either, so I must be doing something right!” he laughed.
Also, keep an eye out for ‘Underdogs’ midfielder, Colm Flynn from Ballymahon in Longford.
The highly-rated Flynn, who is an exceptional free-taker, works in Castlebar.

Whats next?
THE next episode of ‘The Underdogs’ will be broadcast on TG4 on Thursday night at 9.30pm.