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Edward 'Feathers' Byrne, son of 'Big Bird', on nicknames, hurling and family

Byrne and Mount Leinster Rangers face Kilcormac/Killoughey in the Leinster club SHC semi-final on Sunday.

Edward Byrne Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

TO UNDERSTAND WHERE Edward ‘Feathers’ Byrne’s nickname comes from, you just need to take a look at his family tree.

His father goes by ‘Big Bird’, while his uncle is known simply as ‘Ducky’.

Byrne blames his Mount Leinster Rangers team-mate Gary Doyle for christening him ‘Feathers’.

“I have to give Gary Doyle the credit for my nickname anyway,” he laughs. “Yeah, everyone calls me that, pretty much. It’s after sticking anyway, that’s for sure.”

Eddie ‘Big Bird’ Byrne was one of the founding members of the club in 1988. 29 years ago, three neighbouring clubs in Carlow were amalgamated to form Mount Leinster Rangers.

A year after the club came into existence, ‘Big Bird’ was full-forward on the team that hammered St Mullins in the Carlow IHC final by 25 points.

In 2014, when ‘Big Bird’ was long retired, he watched his sons Diarmuid and Edward represent the club on St Patrick’s Day in Croke Park.

They picked up Carlow and Leinster honours in the 2013-14 campaign, before falling to Portumna at the final hurdle. Still, it’s been quite the journey for this remarkable club in its young history.

“He was one of the founding members, yeah, back in 1988. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, I suppose. There’s nothing to say we won’t have a barren spell after this good crop comes through. We like to take it one year at a time, I suppose, and see what happens.

“The auld lad was very involved so he’s happy enough to see us progressing. And my brother Diarmuid is playing in the middle of the field for us now as well, so whatever about winning stuff with your team-mates, it’s nice to win something with your family as well. It’s good to have him there.

Diarmuid Byrne is congratulated by his sister Roisin Diarmuid Byrne is congratulated by his sister Roisin after the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final win over Loughgiel Shamrocks Source: Presseye/John McIlwaine/INPHO

“From a young age you’d be going around to matches. I have four sisters and three of them were older than me and they would have been all training. I would have been at all of those trainings as well because mam would have been heavily involved in the camogie as well.

“I basically spent six nights a week in the pitch. It’s great to have that, like. There’s other children around the country who don’t have that situation to be in, and it was just nice to have it.”

Byrne reckons it was Sunday’s opponents Kilcormac/Killoughey who helped spark their run to that All-Ireland final appearance in 2014. In November 2012, Mount Leinster Rangers fell to the Offaly champions in the Leinster club SHC quarter-final.

Byrne scored two points in the defeat that day and expects a similarly physical battle in Tullamore.

“They were good that day (in 2012),” he says. “It was a bad day and we gave away a lot of frees. They have the bones of that team still and they have the experience of going on and winning Leinster and going to the All-Ireland Final.

“They won’t be any push-overs and they have home advantage too which will be a big help for them.

Edward Byrne Edward Byrne in action during the 2014 All-Ireland final Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“They are a big, strong team. They have very skilful hurlers to complement that too, the likes of Daniel Currams and Ciaran Slevin in the middle of the field, they’re very good and would probably make any county team around Ireland.

“It’s going to be a tough battle of very similarly matched teams. We’ll see what will happen on the day.”

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