Groundsman Jody Morgan, father of cricketers Eoin and Gavin, settles down in his living room overlooking the fresh, lush sports grounds of Trinity College in Santry. He has mixed feelings about the approaching All-Ireland Cricket final, when his sons will play on opposite sides.
History has afforded countless societies and cultures tales of fraternal rivalry. It began with Cain and Abel, and famous rivalries have been played out between brothers such as Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, through to the infamous Earp brothers of the American West. Since then, siblings have lined up on opposite sides in various conflicts. Now, as fate has ordained, Malahide Village's Eoin, and Rush village's Gavin Morgan aged 15 and 20 respectively, will square up in one of the key duels of the day as they engage in what promises to be a memorable climax to this season's All-Ireland Cup campaign next Friday in Clontarf Cricket Club.
For the first time in the competition's history, two southern sides will compete in the final of domestic cricket's premier fixture. In a typically tongue-in-cheek gesture, Eoin (left) maintains that his side will have the edge, both on and off the field of play, "Gavin will be a crucial bowler for Rush. He's having a good season and he's obviously been hitting some important runs too. He was man of the match in the semi-final, but I reckon the support at home will be towards Malahide (!)".
Eoin will travel to Lord's to sign a pre-season contract with Middlesex in September, which will tie him to the county for season 2003, believes that Rush's strength lies in its' two star players, brother Gavin and captain Nazeer Shaukat. He stresses, however, that his own side possess the right blend of youth and experience. "Our strengths lie in getting runs early on the board, this added to the experience of Jim Govan who has over 50 caps for Scotland, through to our middle order which offers up the fearlessness of youth, for example the combination of John Pryor's 25 in the semi-final (against Donemana) and the experience again of the two Weirs (Robert and Anton) ultimately saw us home". He continues, "Our bowling is also strong, Steve Smith's a very tight bowler, Damien Ryan has vast experience both bowling and batting. (Opening bowler) Pete (Saville) was man of the match in one of the earlier rounds and Jim (Govan) took 6 wickets in the semi-final".
Gavin suggests that Rush and Malahide's involvement in the Cup final is important for the Fingal region, "It's nice to have Malahide and Rush involved, seeing as Rush had never actually won a game in the competition (up to this year), it's a great achievement. It's also very good for Leinster cricket". He continues "Our success is centred around working hard, training hard and having good coaches. There are a lot of good young cricketers such as Fintan McAllister, Alan Caren, Niall Mullen and Lee Metcalfe". Gavin notes how throughout Rush's campaign; several others (Shaukat, Colm Doyle and himself, twice) have scooped the man of the match awards. "The two teams are basically on a similar level. Nobody has a really obvious strong or weak point. Winning is a matter of whoever wants it most on the day". He adds, "It's great to play against Eoin for the first time. Himself and Jim Govan will be their main threat". On a contemplative pause he remarks, "Eoin's strength, though, is cricket".
Jody maintains a diplomatic silence but he hopes that Friday will be a success for both and, "... that as long as the two boys get on well and do their best, I'll be very proud, as I am for all my four boys and two girls. I drilled into them that they are the best and to believe that. Friday will be a strange one for me because under normal circumstances I would have hoped that both of them would have played on the one side. Gavin was under pressure a couple of years ago and the system (following rejections at both youth inter-provincial and international levels) failed him. But he has kept at it and worked very hard and my hope now is that the system won't fail him again". Without an air of understatement, he adds, "Eoin is just exceptional. I can guarantee that there will be no friction between them. Aside from everything else, they're great pals. Rush probably has to win more to get recognition, whereas Malahide won't have that added pressure. Rest assured, though, both sides will be up for the game".
As regards winning the title, Jody reflects upon what will undoubtedly be "a fantastic day for my family. Gavin and Eoin are fourth generation cricketers. My own brother (John) and I played against each other many years ago, though our late father (Sonny) didn't really get the chance to see that. The result really doesn't matter to me. The winner is the two of them being there, and cricket itself. Both clubs, who have been short of full Irish cricketers at the highest level, will now get the recognition they deserve". He adds, "We need to start converting the success of underage teams to the senior side. I remember when, years ago, the secretary of the Irish Cricket Union said to me that we'd a great absence of southern cricketers in the Irish side because we didn't compete in the Irish Cup. Hopefully we will have that now, big time".
Either way, Jody can't really lose. He maintains that his passion and pride will be secondary to the outcome. As Dire Straits sang: "I've witnessed your suffering, As the battles raged higher". Jody hopes that both sons will fight the good fight, in a sense, "for the honour of the little Village", as the old story goes.
Malahide (from): D. McGeehan (Capt.), B. Gilmore, J. Govan, E. Morgan, J. Pryor, D. Ryan, R. Weir, A. Weir, A. Pyne (Wkt.), P. Saville, S. Smith, P. Markey, A. Smith
Rush (from): N. Shaukat (Capt.), G. Morgan, C. Doyle, A. Butterly, N. Mullen, W. Cross, Ian Worrell (Wkt.), F. McAllister, J. Carthy, R. McGuinness, L. Metcalfe, R. Wilde, A. Caren