'Everything I touched turned to gold': The summer that Wexford star Matty Forde shone brightest

We hear from the Model County hero in Episode 3 of our Life Changing Moments podcast series with UPMC – the Official Healthcare Partner of the GAA/GPA.

WE’VE TEAMED UP with UPMC – Official Healthcare Partner of the GAA/GPA – to produce a brand new Life Changing Moments podcast series.

Over an eight-week period, legendary former GAA players will open up about key performances that helped shape their illustrious careers and change their lives – on and off the pitch. 

BACK IN 2004, Matty Forde made history by becoming the first Wexford man to win a football All-Star award. 

Today, he remains the only one to have done so. The corner forward’s inspirational performances as captain of the Model County saw him finish top scorer in the 2004 All-Ireland senior championship.

It comes as little surprise then, that the Kilanerin-Ballyfad club man has chosen a standout moment from that summer to talk about with The42′s GAA editor Fintan O’Toole. 

Wexford came up against Offaly in Round 2 of the All-Ireland championship in July, and Forde would produce a man-of-the-match display — contributing 2-10 in a 2-14 to 0-15 victory. 

mark-daly-and-matty-forde Forde shoots under pressure from Offaly's Mark Daly. INPHO INPHO

“I was captain of Wexford at that time and I probably trained harder then than ever before,” Forde explains, in our latest podcast offering. “You’re just trying to set an example as talk is cheap. We had loads of leaders in that team but I was lucky enough to be selected as captain.

I had a really good national league that year scoring-wise so it was just trying to carry that on. It was one of those evenings where everything you touched turned to gold. Scoring 2-10 doesn’t happen too often in your career, so it was lovely when it did.”

His peroxide blonde hair and silver Adidas Predator boots made Forde stand out on the Wexford Park pitch that day, and he accepts that the look would have made him an easy target for criticism had he not been in such scintillating form. 

“At that stage, I had a contract with Adidas – as did a good few other hurlers and footballers at the time,” he adds. 

“Wearing their boots was one of the things we had to do, which wasn’t a chore. At the time [though], they were silver so I got plenty of stick over them.

“Regarding the hair, I received even more hardship over that. My sister is a hairdresser and I remember the week of the match she said she wanted to practice doing highlights. I said ‘fair enough’, so she put them in but I had to rush off.

“Little did she know I was going to the gym and the pool. She only told me later that my hair could have turned green from the chlorine in the pool. My Jesus, if that had happened I would have been in serious trouble!

“If I hadn’t played well, the hair and the boots would have been brought up but thankfully all’s well that ends well.”

For the full interview, click the Soundcloud button at the top of the article or subscribe to The42 wherever you get your podcasts.

matty-forde-celebrates-at-the-end-of-the-match Matty celebrating at the end of the match. INPHO INPHO

UPMC, Official Healthcare Partner of the GAA/GPA, has been providing expert healthcare in the South East since 2006. UPMC’s operations in Ireland include UPMC Whitfield Hospital in Waterford, UPMC Kildare Hospital in Clane, the UPMC Carlow Outreach Centre, UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre radiotherapy with locations at UPMC Whitfield and in Cork, and the UPMC Concussion Network. For more information on how UPMC provides life changing medicine to communities across Ireland, visit www.upmc.ie

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