DUBLIN brothers John and Niall Coughlan are now free to play for Offaly footballers under the parentage rule after receiving the green light from the Dublin county board this week.
The two siblings have declared Offaly as their 'home' county under Rule 6.3 of the Official Guide, which enables certain players born in Dublin to declare for the home county of a parent.
Offaly, whose last All-Ireland SFC success came in 1982 and last Leinster title in '97, qualify as one of the eligible counties allowed to avail of this rule.
It means that the two siblings, who have both represented Dublin at both minor and U21 level, can now play for the Faithful without having to switch residence or club allegiance to Offaly. Both will continue playing for St Sylvester's in Malahide.
This dual declaration is a timely coup for Offaly boss Tom Cribbin, especially the 'capture' of John Coughlan who was a midfield mainstay on the Dublin minor team of 2003. The Sky Blues won Leinster that year and were only toppled in an All-Ireland minor final replay -- by the same Laois side they had beaten in the provincial final.
Coughlan subsequently spent some time on the Dublin senior panel but failed to establish himself on a permanent basis.
Younger brother Niall has also featured at underage level for his native county while both Coughlans were involved in DIT's Sigerson Cup campaign last year, with John starting the final defeat to CIT while Niall was a half-time replacement.
The Malahide pair are nephews of famous Offaly hurler Eugene Coughlan, who won All-Ireland medals in 1981 and '85. Their application to declare for Offaly was sanctioned by a full Dublin county committee meeting on Monday night, having been recommended by the management committee in Parnell Park.
They will now be eligible for Offaly's next NFL Division Three outing at home to Roscommon on Sunday week.
Cavan have availed of the same parentage rule to recently claim the services of St Oliver Plunkett's playmaker Gareth 'Nesty' Smith, another former Dublin U21 footballer.