Absent Friend: Seán (John) Doran

John Doran 1969-70 FAI Cup winner

Everyone at Dalymount Park wishes to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of our former player and general manager John Doran, who has sadly passed away.

Stephen Burke writes:

Though football was a huge part of his life, John Doran was much more than a footballer, and it is an impossible task to adequately do justice to this entirely remarkable human being.

I first met him in and around 1967, went to see him play at Dalymount Park courtesy of the odd guest pass, and so I began to support Bohemians, as did my whole family.

I should mention that he was ‘John’ to us, but ‘Seán’ to his nearest and dearest. He was so good humoured he never seemed to mind which name you used.

He played for Bohs for ten seasons, the first three as an amateur, and then as a professional. John was on the first Bohemian team to include professionals (Tony O’Connell and Dinny Lowry), and would become the the last and longest-serving player from Bohemians’ amateur era, his departure after over ten years service bringing down the curtain on the club’s transition years.

John would sign pro the next season as manager Seán Thomas built a team that would lift the FAI Cup for the first time since 1935. He was also on the first Bohemian team to play in European competition, in the Cup-Winners’ Cup games against Gottwaldov of what was then Czechoslovakia. He brought back a beautiful glass vase John as a present for my mother.

In 1971 John and his sisters Carol and Dolores had formed a women’s team in Finglas, the Suffragettes, and for almost three years I was secretary and assistant manager. With John as manager, the team was set up on near-professional lines as he applied everything he’d learnt about the game to help the girls progress rapidly. He was making his way as a computer engineer at the time, playing semi-professionally for Bohs, and breaking ground in women’s football with the Suffragettes. Typical John. He was non-stop.

Naturally the Suffragettes were a great success, winning the very first Women’s FAI Cup in 1971 (the final actually being played in January 1972). They reached the 1972 WFAI Cup final too, but this time were runners-up to All Stars of Ballyfermot in the decider at Richmond Park.

In November 1972 John won his Ireland Under-23 cap alongside clubmate Mick Martin in a 0-0 draw with France at Lorient.

John’s career with Bohs continued to blossom. The club won its first League title since 1936 in 1975 with an incredible defensive record. John would have been an ever-present except for the last game of that season, with the title already wrapped up, manager Billy Young tried out a young unknown in his right-full position, a lad called Kevin Moran.

The 1975/76 would be John’s tenth and final one with Bohs, and though he only started eleven games, he played a notable part in a tricky FAI Cup quarter-final at Turner’s Cross against a Cork Celtic side that boasted World Cup-winner Geoff Hurst. Gerry Ryan limped off after 25 minutes, and John ran on to join Turlough O’Connor and Niall Shelley up front. With 20 minutes remaining, John proved his worth by firing home the game’s only goal – Bohs would go on to lift the blue riband.

In all he 322 appearances for Bohs, scoring 19 goals in his ten seasons (1966/67 to 1975/76).

One quirky matter not included in his goal stats is the rare, possibly unique feat of scoring a hat-trick in a penalty shoot-out, one that decided the Pioneer Cup game away to Cliftonville in May 1968.

John continued his League of Ireland career with Shamrock Rovers and then Thurles Town. At Thurles he was a player for a year, and then player-manager for the next four. It almost goes without saying that Thurles could often be difficult opponents with John at the helm, and they took vital points off Bohs more than once!

He moved on to manage St James’s Gate for four years, and was with Clontarf for 13 seasons as a player and manager of various sides, including the over-35s. John’s work took him to Montevideo in Uruguay for four or five years where he was a member of Carrasco FC, playing football with their Masters (over-45) team.

In 2010 he came back to Bohemians as General Manager for a year and a bit during a very difficult period. Just like John to take on a near-impossible task.

That John’s sons, John junior and Gareth, would become classy tennis players was no doubt due at least in part to their father’s interest in the game that had paralleled his football career, and I believe at least one of his young grandchildren is also showing similar talent at Wimbledon no less.

John was a great talker and joker, his chirpy manner ever-present in everything he did, quite often squeezing in a bit of Gaeilge along the way. He brought you along with him, coached you, boosted you. He made me a better person, and I know he did the same for many others.

If there was a problem it was always a case of, “give me the details” and, soon enough, “I see, ok, here’s what we do”. The positivity just flowed out of him. There weren’t really problems but opportunities to do something better. He could and would argue with you over something or other, but you’d never fall out, there’d be that twinkle in his eye as he picked just the right remark and moment to leave you laughing.

He could be impossible (!), such as never letting you buy him tea or coffee or anything, he’d always insist on paying. And he always wanted to give back to Bohs, for instance paying for a season ticket he’d rarely use as his regular football game in Clontarf was on a Friday night.

After he retired he continued to run and walk every day, played tennis, football, and golf.

I don’t know when or where to start or stop when it comes to John, and I never will, I owe him so much.
A role model, a mentor, an inspiration, but more importantly the warmest, truest friend you could wish for.

John Doran: there really are no words.

Funeral notice of John Doran

Doran, John (Clontarf, Dublin) 28th March 2024, (peacefully) surrounded by his loving family, under the kindness and compassion of the staff at the Mater Hospital. Beloved husband of Geraldine, loving father of Kathrina, John and Gareth, and adoring grandfather of JohnPatrick, Pierce, Jack, Margaret, Frederick and Alexandra. John will be very sadly missed by his loving and devoted wife, children, daughter-in-law Erica, grandchildren, brothers Tony and Christopher, sisters Pat, Dolores, Carol and Catherine, brothers-in-law, sisters in law, nieces, nephews and extended family and wide circle of friends.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, to the Mater Hospital.

Reposing at his family home on Monday 1st from 3pm-5pm. Family home private all other times. Removal on Tuesday morning to St. John the Baptist Church, Clontarf arriving for 10am Funeral Mass followed by a cremation in Glasnevin Crematorium.

For those who cannot attend but wish to view John’s Funeral Mass you can do so using this link.

John’s Cremation Service can also be viewed at 1pm using this link.

Those who would have liked to attend the funeral, but cannot, please leave your condolences using this link.

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