Apart from county senior football champions Castlehaven, only one other club has more than one player starting for Cork in Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC round 4A qualifier against Sligo at O’Connor Park in Tullamore (throw-in 5pm).
That is the Caheragh-based Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh, who are represented by brothers Colm and Brian O’Driscoll, both making their first starts at senior inter-county championship level.
They are sons of Gene, who was on the county panel in 1984 and ’85 and who was player-coach as O’Donovan Rossa won the 1993 All-Ireland Club title. He is the current manager of the Carbery divisional side and with another son, Kevin, having been on the fringes of the panel earlier this year, they present a strong pedigree, as Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh chairman Michael Lynch outlines.
“This is the third generation of O’Driscolls to have been central to the club,” he said, “the lads’ grandfather Sonny was one of the founding members back in 1954 and then Gene and his brother Tony would have come along.
“It’s a great achievement for the club, to have even one player on the Cork panel is a massive thing but to have two is amazing. The boys have shown all the way up along that they have talent and now they’re getting their reward. They’re very committed and it’s like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.”
Brian’s ascent follows a path which has been marked out for a while. He built on impressive performances in the Corn Uí Mhuirí for St Fachtna’s by being part of the Cork U21 panel while still a minor and he was a part of the successful Sigerson Cup-winning UCC side this past spring.
While Colm also shone for Fachtna’s and played for Cork at underage — as well as starring in hurling for Bishopstown — his senior inter-county chance looked to have passed him by as he fell away from the extended squad in 2011. That he has re-emerged is testament to his perseverance, according to Lynch.
“I was a selector along with Gene when we won a West Cork U16 about nine years ago,” he said, “and Colm was the main man for us then.
“He has always had the talent and he has shown by coming back that he’s made of tough stuff.
“Brian has always been a tremendous talent too and they both hopefully have big futures with Cork, starting on Saturday.”
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Colm and Brian O’Driscoll continue a long tradition of brothers playing for Cork.
Martin and Alan Cronin (Nemo Rangers)
Martin first made his name on the intercounty scene as a wing-forward in the mid-90s but had relocated to the half-back line by 1999, when Cork lost the All-Ireland final to Meath. Brother Alan, who emerged in the early 2000s, was capable of operating in either of the forward lines.
Joe and Derek Kavanagh (Nemo Rangers)
Having made his debut in 1992, Joe scored a wonderful goal as Cork lost the 1993 All-Ireland final to Derry and he repeated the feat against Meath in ’99 but was again on the losing side. He retired in 2002, a year after Derek made his debut. While Derek missed ’02, he won his place back in ’03 and was a mainstay until his retirement after winning the 2010 All- Ireland. Older brother Larry also played in the league for Cork.
Tony and Don Davis (O’Donovan Rossa)
Tony won All-Ireland U21 medals in both 1984 and ’85, part of a three-in-a-row which helped to backbone the senior side built by Billy Morgan to overhaul Kerry. All-Irelands followed in 1989 and ’90 but sadly he was wrongly sent off in the ’93 decider against Derry, which Cork lost. Don – one of Brian Cuthbert’s selectors now – had made his way on to the senior panel by then and also suffered defeat in ’99.
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