Tuesday 21 November 2017

Morgan hoping to become Nemo's 'accidental' hero

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

EVERYONE makes the same assumption. They assume it was written in the stars for Billy Morgan's son to be a goalkeeper but Brian, who will line out between the posts for Nemo Rangers in Sunday's AIB Munster SFC club final against Dr Crokes, found himself there by accident.

He had played soccer in goal as a youngster and had a brief stint there with Colaiste Chriost Ri, but he fancied himself more of a forward in his formative years.

And despite serving the best possible goalkeeping apprenticeship, he resisted the call. As a child, he acted as ball retriever for his father, Ger Cunningham and the late John Kerins when they came together for some extra goalkeeping practice.

"You could hardly been learning from better men. But I was a centre-forward or corner-forward and only ended up playing in goals by chance really," he says.

That chance came in 1998 when a Nemo intermediate team found themselves without their 'keeper for a championship match and Morgan stood in.

He hasn't looked back and was drafted on to the club's senior panel by Billy the following year and has been their first-choice 'keeper for six seasons now. He will skipper the side in Sunday's decider; his brother Alan is also involved along with cousins William and Peter Morgan.

Nemo beat Stradbally to reach the final while Crokes needed extra-time to get past Aherlow in their semi-final.

Morgan's wife is from South Tipperary and expected Aherlow to test the Kerry kingpins, when most people expected a one-sided game.

"They're very passionate about their football down there so I knew it wouldn't be one-way traffic," he says. "They always had a chance, especially with the game being played in Cashel."

Morgan speaks of "heartbreak" when he mentions the Munster defeat to Dromcollogher in 2008 and the All-Ireland final loss to St Vincent's in March of that year.

"Some clubs win the county and that's enough but there's a tradition with Nemo and this competition going back there to the '70s when we won our first one right through to now. We haven't won one since 2003."

It hardly constitutes a famine but it's long enough from a Nemo perspective. First they'll have to see off Dr Crokes at the Gaelic Grounds -- and for much of the last decade Kerry football has had the hex on Cork.

That might have changed last September when the Rebels finally won Sam Maguire but with Barry O'Driscoll definitely out, Dylan Meegan a major doubt and James Masters slowly recovering from injury, Nemo will have to shuffle their deck.

"Small things can decide matches at this time of year," says Morgan. "They tend to be low-scoring games. I saw Dr Crokes in their county final and they were very impressive that day.

"It's two good footballing sides on Sunday but it could come down to something as small as a refereeing decision or the break of a ball."

Irish Independent

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