Since Jon Clifford first formed Tristar FC in 1974, the club has continually developed players, many of which have made it to senior footballing levels with prefessional and semi-professional clubs. Here we try to capture some of our most successful players.
Athletic under the tutelage of coach Jim O’Hea with whom he went to Limavady United. There, he caught the eye of Nottingham Forest and in 1983 he signed a contract with them. His debut was against Arsenal on 13 April 1985.
(Defender/Midfield) Born in Derry, from a long line of brothers who all played for Tristar in the D&D Youth Leagues for a number of seasons. Joe went to School at St Columb’s College and represented NI at school boy and youth level 18 times, before moving to Boston in 1990 on a soccer scholarship with Harvard University. Joe played for a very successful Tristar team in the 80’s that won multiple D&D and NI titles. They also had success in the short lived Hoechst Cup which culminated in a trip to England to play in the finals at Fulham’s Craven Cottage and were the only Tristar team to win silverware at the Milk Cup as they won the U14 Plate in 1987.
Joe is now the founder and CEO of Global Premier Soccer – one of the largest soccer clubs in the US stretching across 11 states.
Joe Bradley brought a no-nonsense style of football to Harvard when he left the Creggan Estate for the Ivy League. He rose to anchor the Crimson team at centre midfield. In his senior year, he won the team captaincy as well as academic all-American honours.
Teaming up with his older brother and former Tristar stalwart Pete, Joe took over a flagging professional football club in 2001, re-branded it as a premier youth development programme, and guided the talent under his wing to win 14 national club titles over 10 years. Throughout the last decade or more, the Brothers Bradley – with Pete as coaching director and Joe managing the front office – have reached back to Derry to recruit coaches and players. They have linked up with Tristar and offer a 6 week ‘scholarship’ for a player to come over every year, an amazing opportunity for any young player to develop their skills and look at what Harvard and other US institutions can offer. In 2014, Global Premier Soccer announced an exclusive partnership with Bayern Munich, which will see GPS expand the Bayern Munich brand in the expansive youth football marketplace in America.
David McDaid (Striker) Born in Derry, played for Tristar in the D&D Youth Leagues for a number of seasons. He later joined League of Ireland Premier Division side Derry City, and had a short loan spell Sligo Rovers in the 2008 season. He was on loan to Finn Harps in the 2009 Season before making his Derry City debut in August of 2009. He spend a short time with York in 2013 before rejoining Derry City in the summer of that year, before moving on again to Coleraine.
Paul and Ryan Curran Paul was born 5 October 1966 in Derry, Northern Ireland. Paul began his career with Tristar FC playing in the D&D leagues. During a distinguished playing career, Curran played for periods of time with Ards F.C., Finn Harps F.C. and Derry City F.C. of the League of Ireland, where he was team captain and won the treble in 1988–1989, as well as playing for Dundalk F.C.. He holds the record for the second-highest number of appearances for Derry City ever, a total of 518 appearances. His 500th appearance came in January 1999. He made a total of 26 appearances for Finn Harps in the 1986–87 League of Ireland season.
He gained managerial experience with Dundalk, where he was assistant manager to Trevor Anderson for three years, and also had a short spell as caretaker manager. He won the Player of the Year at Oriel Park in 2003. On 26 November 2006, Paul was appointed manager of Larne F.C..
His son, Ryan, who also came through the Tristar ranks currently plays for Derry City making his debut in the EA Sports Cup. Ryan Curran was one of the fastest rising stars in the Derry City Reserve and U-19 squads over the past few seasons. Ryan plays at the opposite end of the park, from his defender father, as an out and out striker, and has proven that he can find the net at the highest level having already come off the bench to score for the Derry City first team last year.
Marty McCann, born in 1972 first joined Tristar FC in 1974. He has played with Derry City in the League of Ireland, as well as Irish League sides Institute, Cliftonville and Ards. He acted as Paul Hegarty’s assistant manager at Finn Harps in the League of Ireland and has gained his UEFA Pro License in 2011, before joining Derry City again in 2013 as first team coach.
Darren Gibson, a former pupil of St Columb’s College, Gibson played junior football in the Derry and District League with Tristar FC, and then with Institute before joining Manchester United in 2004, then Everton in 2012. He also had loan spells with Royal Antwerp and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He made his senior debut for United on 26 October 2005 in a League Cup game against Barnet, coming on as a substitute for Lee Martin. During the 2005–06 season he played regularly for Manchester United Reserves, helping them win a treble. He made 19 appearances, scoring twice. In May 2006, he won the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award as United’s youth player of the year and then played regularly for the United senior team during their pre-season summer games, together with Dong Fangzhuo, Jonny Evans, Fraizer Campbell and Danny Simpson.
Gibson made his Premier League debut on 15 November 2008, appearing as a second half substitute against Stoke City, before making his UEFA Champions League debut ten days later, coming on as a substitute for Darren Fletcher against Villarreal on 25 November 2008. Soon after this he was called in the ROI squad.
He scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season as he netted the first of United’s goals in a 5–2 away win over Scunthorpe United in the League Cup. He is now a regular in the Everton squad.
Mark McCrystal, began his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers where he was one of a plethora of young players from Northern Ireland playing there. After spending three years at Molineux, including a spell on loan at Bradford City in 2003, he was released and returned home to sign for his local team Derry City in April 2003, despite interest from other English clubs. He was then loaned out to near neighbours Institute by Dermot Keely on a three-month deal.
He fought his way back into the team under Gavin Dykes and Peter Hutton but did not appear regularly during the reign of Stephen Kenny due to stiff competition in defence. He was released in Dec 2006 by manager Pat Fenlon.
He made his debut at Partick Thistle in a 2–0 defeat by Clyde on 2 Jan 2007 and was a regular throughout the season.
He re-signed for Derry City in Aug 2007 after turning down a move to Glentoran. The following year he collected his first major honours, a winner’s medal in the League Cup as Wexford Youths were routed 6–1 and a runners-up medal following an FAI Cup Final penalty shoot-out defeat by Bohemians.
He next joined Lisburn Distillery on a short-term deal in late 2009, but rejoined Derry City for a third spell in January 2010, on a one year contract, and helped Derry back into the Premier Division as First Division Champions.
On 6 Jan 2011 he joined English club Tranmere Rovers on a six-month contract and at the end of the 2010–11 season he was offered a new contract by the club and at the end of June he signed a two-year contract]
On 3 Jan 2013, he signed a short term contract with League Two side Bristol Rovers.
He gained Schoolboy caps while at St. Columb’s College and Tristar FC in his native Derry, and added U18 caps whilst at Wolves. He appeared nine times for Northern Ireland’s Under 21 team, making his debut on 18 Aug 2004 against Switzerland, with his last appearance coming almost two years later on 16 Aug 2006 against Romania.
Gavin Drummond was with Leicester City and played for Athlone Town in the LOI. He resides there now.
Martin Cassidy was Derry City’s no.1 when they re-entered senior football in 1985.