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Winning a New York title 40 years after his father and almost being named after a Tipp hurler

From Pittsburgh to the Big Apple to Gort, the Hartes have come a long way.

WHEN AIDAN HARTE’S mother was growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1960s, she hardly thought the majority of her life would revolve around hurling.

If she didn’t know much about it back then, she’s certainly well-versed on the sport by now.

Allianz Hurling League Final Media Day Aidan Harte was at the Allianz Hurling League Final Media Day Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

The Hartes are well-known in Galway GAA circles these days, and on Sunday Aidan will line out against Tipperary in the Allianz Hurling League final.

From Pittsburgh to New York to Gort, the family have come a long way. It’s been some journey.

Josie Harte, Aidan’s father, arrived in New York in 1966 to play at Gaelic Park the Galway hurlers.

His plan was to stick around in the Big Apple for a year and return home. As many Irish emigrants discovered before and since, New York is a difficult place to turn your back on. He stayed put for 11 years.

Somewhere along the way he married Karen, a phone operator from Pittsburgh. She worked the long distance calls and, more often than not, she was on the end of the line when Josie rang his family back in Ireland.

One thing led to another and Josie eventually persuaded Karen to take a trip down to New York.

“The rest is history I suppose,” laughs Aidan.

In 1977 the couple bought a pub in Gort, Galway and moved to Ireland.

Josie Harte Josie Harte managed Galway in 2001 Source: INPHO

“I was born in ’88 and the mother wanted to name me Aidan-Ryan, a double-barrel name, but dad wasn’t having any of it,” he continues.

“At the time Aidan Ryan was corner forward for Tipp. So it wasn’t happening. They ended up with just Aidan.”

By that stage Karen had no doubt figured that hurling would be a major part of her life.

“She had no choice in our house but to buy into it,” continues Aidan.

“She’s probably a mediator more than anything now after games when things get fiery if we lose or anything like that. But she’s grand, she’s another voice that you talk to about other things. Certainly between myself and dad it’s hurling, hurling, hurling most of time.”

Aidan Harte Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Josie, a great hurler in his day, helped the Galway club to a New York senior hurling title in 1974.

Exactly 40 years later Aidan managed to do the same when he spent the summer lining out for his father’s old team.

“Tipperary beat us in the qualifiers in 2014 down in Thurles. So a few of us got an opportunity to go over.

“Myself Brendan Bugler, Conor Cooney, Johnny Coen and Lee Chin went over and hurled away over there. It was Galway’s centenary year in New York.

“We won the championship over there and it was great craic. It was good for them over there because it meant a lot to them at the time.”

General view of Gaelic Park ahead of the game Gaelic Park, New York Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

Josie took the opportunity to return to his old stomping ground and it was like he’d never left.

“Dad came over for the final and sure it was like walking down the main street of home,” says Aidan.

“There was lads shouting across the road, ‘Hey Joe welcome back.’

“Most of them would have sadly passed on at that time but there was definitely a strong connection still.”

Harte has picked up plenty of silverware this side of the pond too. He’s won two senior county titles with Gort, as well as a Leinster title and Division 1 league crown with Galway.

He was corner-forward in his debut campaign seven years ago when Galway defeated Cork in the league final.

Having spent the last few campaigns operating at midfield, Harte is adjusting to a new role at corner-back under Michael Donoghue.

“It’s somewhere I have played a bit with the club and I’ve played there with Galway in training. I won a league in 2010 playing corner-forward against Cork and now I’m corner-back, but look wherever I can get on the team and take a jersey I’ll take it.

Aidan Harte Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“The thing about midfield and wing-forward is it’s more open and free hurling. It’s a bit more negative when you’re corner-back. I don’t mind if I strike the ball at all in the game as long as my man doesn’t. When the ball comes in whatever about you getting it you’ve to make sure he doesn’t anyway.”

Facing a Tipperary attack that posted 5-17 from play last weekend, Harte is expecting a busy afternoon in the Gaelic Grounds.

“There’s great movement in their forwards. You could see that in the Wexford game the last day when there was 10 minutes to go and they were well up at the time, but they kept going for their goals.

“They still had the support play coming from midfield so that’s something we’ll be looking to tie down on Sunday. You can’t let your guard down until the 74th or 75th minute until you’re walking back into the dressing room.”

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