Sport Gaelic Football

Wednesday 21 March 2018

O'Flaherty boys have no problem shooting down their Offaly neighbours

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

WHEN players finally win a long-coveted bit of silverware they often remark that everything was "a bit of blur" but, in Morgan O'Flaherty's, case, when Kildare won the Division 2 title in April, that was literally the case.

Just when he was preparing to go out to celebrate that night, the defender suddenly came over all woozy.

A quick trip to the local A&E department in Naas confirmed concussion, and they didn't release him until the next day.

No celebratory scoops for him then, but no complaints either.

Having two brothers on a county senior team is quite an achievement, yet Kildare's low-key O'Flaherty boys -- half-back Morgan (28) and half-forward Eoghan (23) -- make little fuss about anything.

But Morgan does reckon his younger brother was always going to make the grade.

Had Eoghan done transition year he would have been on the St Mary's Edenderry team that won a breakthrough All-Ireland Schools 'B' title in 2007, beating a Letterkenny team that included Michael Murphy in the final.

Two years later, when St Mary's reached the 'A' final, their younger brother Brian was corner-forward on the team heartbreakingly pipped by Jack O'Connor's Colaiste na Sceilge.


Eoghan, his older brother reveals, was also a very handy underage rugby player.

He didn't have time to train but used to line out at full-back for Edenderry RFC and would like to go back to rugby some day.

"A lot of them in there say he was probably one that slipped through the net," Morgan reveals.

If you're noticing a lot of Offaly references here that's not surprising.

Like most kids around Carbury, the O'Flahertys went to school across the border in another football heartland, where their school-mates inevitably included future Offaly seniors.

That's how they'd know fellas like Anton Sullivan, Brian Darby and Richie Dalton. Eoghan even shared a house in college with Sean Pender, also among tomorrow's opponents.

The O'Flahertys' parents, dairy farmers, moved to live in Offaly six years ago, but the family is still Lilywhite to its core.

Their paternal grandfather hailed from Dingle, Co Kerry, their dad and all his family played for Raheens and there is a wealth of tennis/golf on their mum's side, from Sallins, Co Kildare.

"I lived in Clonbollogue for a short while," Morgan explains. "I was in college in Edinburgh around the time we moved and when I came back first I lived there for a while before moving to Naas."

Edinburgh is part of his unusually circuitous journey to the Kildare senior jersey.

While Eoghan eventually headed to DIT to study accountancy (he now works for EBS in Dublin), Morgan went to Carlow IT.

After a three-year diploma in engineering, he moved, with a dozen classmates, to Edinburgh for two years to convert it to a degree and now works for Kildare County Council's roads division.

His Scottish university had a Gaelic football team who played around Britain but that was "very social", he says.

Having already played Kildare minor for a year, the move was untimely for an aspiring county U-21 but he modestly insists that "I wasn't in the reckoning then, honestly. I was a bit of a late developer, a late bloomer."

When Kieran McGeeney arrived in 2008, Morgan had just finished his first full year with the club in several seasons.

"I just going 23, I was looking to make the step up and felt I did alright and lucky enough I got called up," he says.

In their styles and application to the game, the O'Flahertys appear to embody Kildare under McGeeney -- tireless, selfless players willing to play whenever and wherever they are asked.

"As a centre-back Kieran is someone I would have looked up to a lot when I was younger," Morgan says.

"I feel he's brought me on a lot, especially regards communication. Communicating through the field is very important in the game now.

"Defensively we try and get our numbers behind the ball and when we don't have it, it's about trying to stop the opposition's danger-men, clean things up.

"We pride ourselves on hard work. When you don't have the ball there's 15 defenders, and when we do, we like to attack."

Last summer all three of the O'Flahertys helped Carbury, a club who have repeatedly bowed out at the quarter-final stages, finally reach their first county final in 23 years.

Like any close siblings their friendship is cushioned in slagging. Ask Eoghan what other sport Morgan excels at and he quips: "Yoga, he's very flexible!"

"Ah no, he's quite good at golf," he concedes, even though neither of them have had time yet to acquire a handicap.

Who wins on the snooker table?

"Both of us, that's 50-50," Morgan reckons.

So is there anything he beats the little brother at then?

"Yep, go-karting!" he flashes back as soon as the question is asked. "It's about the only thing I can say I'm better at than him."

Irish Independent

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