Where are they now?: KARL O'DWYER (Former Kildare footballer)
Published 05/06/2011 | 05:00
Although Karl O'Dwyer retired from inter-county football almost ten years ago, he still feels connected to the current team. His former team-mates Johnny Doyle and Dermot Earley are still two of the most important members of the squad and he will be supporting them all the way.
His career started with the Lilywhites in 1997. His father Mick O'Dwyer was the Kildare manager at that time so when the opportunity arose for him to take a teaching job in the county, he decided to switch his football allegiances too.
"My inter-county career in Kerry was going nowhere," said O'Dwyer. "I got the job so I decided to give it a shot as I didn't want to have any regrets. If it hadn't worked out that first year I could have found myself back down in Kerry. Leaving my club (Waterville) was the hardest part of the switch and although I played up here it's never the same, but it was a sacrifice I had to make."
O'Dwyer played with the Kerry senior team in the early 1990s and counts his first appearance in the green and gold of Kerry as one of his proudest moments as a footballer.
He found the first few months with his new county tough but once Kildare got on a roll and started winning matches, it all fell into place for the Kerryman.
They won Leinster in 1998 and went on to the All-Ireland final, losing to Galway by four points.
"I'd love to get back there again. It goes by so fast, it's everybody's dream to play an All-Ireland final in Croke Park and unfortunately we didn't get half enough of them."
O'Dwyer won an All-Star award that year but admits he'd swap it any day for a winner's medal.
The former footballer is settled in Kildare, married with two children and still teaching in Leixlip. He trains Coolkenno in Wicklow, plays golf when he can and will be in Croke Park today shouting for the Lilywhites.
"This game is really a banana skin for Kildare. Meath are down at the moment and therefore dangerous because no one gives them a chance. Kildare are going alright but Dermot Earley and Daryl Flynn are huge losses and I think that will be felt today. On paper, Kildare are looking more balanced but they won't have it easy either."
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