HOW Brendan Hayden Snr would have enjoyed this one. He may have donned the blue and white of Tinryland for the vast majority of his career, but all of his sons – Joe, Brendan, Martin and Colm – played with Éire Óg. On the morning of a big match, Éire Óg player Derek often called in to see his grandfather for a chat.
Brendan passed away in May and Derek still acutely feels his loss.
“It was tough for our family. He was the life and soul of our family when it came to football. He really brought it into the family with my father and my uncles. When he died Éire Óg went on to win the championship. This year when Grandad died it meant an awful lot for me to win the championship,” he recalled.
“I called up to my granny this morning. It is emotional. Going through stuff and saying the kind of stuff he would say to me. It was the simple things which matters, he would say,” stressed Derek.
With Derek’s father, Joe, and uncles, Brendan and Colm, forming the backbone of the great Éire Óg teams of the 90s, the current squad has a lot to live up to.
“My father (Joe) was a big part of my playing career. My two uncles as well and for us to get back to where they were, it gives us a hint of what it feels like.”
Joe Murphy, the Éire Óg manager, has his name etched on those great Éire Óg teams too. His nephew, Jordan Lowry, commands a regular place at right-half back on the current team.
“It is very special. I grew up going to Newbridge and Tullamore. I spent a lot of time watching videos of those lads and hoping at some time to get there. It is nice to get the result and this is the stuff of dreams,” admitted Jordan.
Éire Óg were confident and willing to play their usual passing game on a heavy pitch with a wet ball.
“That is just Éire Óg in a nutshell. Everyone is confident on the ball. We might have given people a fright. I got caught myself but we are comfortable and willing to take that risk,” said Lowry.
Conceding only one point in the second half to both Sarsfields and Portlaoise is an indication of a side who give nothing away at the back.
“There have been questions about our defensive duties and we have worked on that over the last two years,” said Jordan