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'We just hugged and Eoin said: 'We did this, Dad, me and you''

It hasn’t been an easy journey but Jody Morgan was the proudest man in Lord’s on Sunday.
Jul 15th 2019, 5:12 PM 54,468 44

AS JODY MORGAN made his way down from high in the Tavern Stand, weaving his way through the wildly frenzied celebrations amid the noise and unsolicited drama of it all, and into the famous Lord’s pavilion, it all came flooding back.

It may have only taken him a couple of minutes to get from one of the players’ boxes to the pitch, but Jody Morgan could have squeezed two decades worth of memories into that short walk.

Britain CWC Cricket Eoin Morgan with the World Cup trophy. Source: AP/PA Images

The emotion, the hurt, the difficult days, the ‘shit’ thrown at his son and their family down through the years, but, above all, he was bursting with pride, remembering the magical moments in Saint Catherine’s housing estate in Rush, when they first embarked on this journey.

His son was now a World Cup-winning captain. 

Jody Morgan waited patiently, along with the rest of the families, for the players to complete their lap of honour and then, maybe 20 minutes after Jos Buttler had broken the bails to hand England the Cricket World Cup, Eoin appeared, medal around his neck, carrying the trophy.

No words can do that moment — between father and son — justice. 

“We didn’t speak, we just hugged…because we know,” an emotional Morgan tells The42.

“We had been texting during the week and had this thing. We just kept saying to each other, we’re nearly there. Throughout the tournament, that’s all we said, we’re nearly there.

“I texted Eoin before the final to say how proud we were of him and just how good he has been. Yesterday, he just said: ‘We did this, Dad, me and you.’ He doesn’t say very much but when he says it, he means it.”

Jody Morgan, as he had done for the majority of the World Cup, watched every ball of a final for the ages as if he was out in the middle himself. As if he was still out in Kenure Park captaining the Rush 3rd XI, just as he had done when a four-year-old Eoin first strapped on the pads.

“I still can’t really believe it,” he continues. “It’s probably only sinking in today. You start to lose it a little bit in the moment because it brings up emotions about Rush and all the things that happened in Irish cricket. I don’t even know what airport I’m flying home from.”

U13 Rush 1997, Eoin Morgan (front row 2nd from left) Morgan (front row, second from left) with Rush U13s, 1997. Source: Inpho

Morgan, oftentimes with different members of the family including Eoin’s mother Olivia, has travelled back and across from Dublin for all but one of England’s games en route to the promised land, living and breathing every moment of a rollercoaster eight-week tournament. 

They decided to skip the semi-final victory over Australia last week, purely because ‘we wouldn’t put ourselves through that again’, after bearing witness to a couple of England defeats during the first phase, which left the host nation’s hopes hanging by a thread.

“We spoke after the Sri Lanka match [that England lost], and by God, I wasn’t too pleased about some of that, but we spoke about different things,” Morgan explains.

“I normally wouldn’t bring it up when they’ve lost but you just get a bit carried away. Eoin just reminded me it was a long tournament and was so calm. He handles me well, he handles everybody well. 

“Even when I’m not there, I’m always there and he knows that. Myself and Olivia didn’t go to the semi-final and didn’t even watch the second half on TV. We had to turn everything off until it was over, but he knows we’re there.

After that win, I just text him: ‘We’re nearly there,’ and thank God, yesterday they got there. It’s hard to put into words.

In lifting the World Cup trophy aloft at Lord’s, the Home of Cricket, Eoin Morgan has now been placed on a pedestal with legendary England captains such as Martin Johnson and Bobby Moore, leading his team to sporting immortality.

Already one of cricket’s pre-eminent batsmen and leaders, yesterday’s victory over New Zealand was a life and career-defining moment for the 32-year-old, whose talents were first honed in north county Dublin and his character and personality built at home and in the classrooms of Catholic University School on Leeson Street.

Strong-willed, ambitious, focused and a prodigious talent, Morgan knew where he was going from a young age. He made no secret of his desire to reach the top, and growing up in a country that could not offer a career in professional cricket, he had to look elsewhere. 

“That was as hard on his family as it was on him as well. It wasn’t easy,” Jody says.

After playing 63 times for Ireland, it was perhaps predictable that his transition into England colours a decade ago was not accepted among some quarters on this island, and even to this day, it is an issue of great disagreement.

Eoin Morgan visits Rush CC Summer 2018 Back at Rush CC last summer. Source: Inpho

It has meant Morgan, and his family, have never been able to escape criticism, and there were times when he received it from both sides, particularly when he wouldn’t sing the English national anthem. 

Even still, through the peaks and troughs, Morgan remained stubbornly committed. A tenacious desire to succeed drove him on, and nothing was going to get in his way.

“His brothers and sisters knew from the word go he’d make it,” Jody continues. “His capacity to be able to keep everything in his head and be calm. He got that from school in CUS. The vice-principal, Kevin Jennings, he’d always say, tell him to be calm no matter what.

“And there was a lot of shit thrown at him, especially in 2015 after that World Cup and it was a very low ebb for him and being left off the Test team was a huge blow to Eoin. He’s had all that but he has a great capacity to come back from all that.

“The joy on his face yesterday evening, it wasn’t ‘look what I’ve done or look at me’. He lets his cricket do the talking. He doesn’t get carried away about anything, whether it’s good or bad, and that’s stood to him. It’s a very special trait to have.”

Just as he has done as England captain, Morgan has always carried the responsibility on his shoulders comfortably. He never got distracted by the nationality argument in the background, nor those who questioned his patriotism. 

Last summer, he returned to Rush for a mini-documentary commissioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] charting his rise from a housing estate in Fingal to one of the most high-profile positions in the sport. 

As a kid, Morgan would spend hours playing cricket with his five siblings on a concrete strip beside his house, adopting his father’s, grandfather’s and great grandfather’s love of the sport. He has always been aware of that heritage, of that family history, Jody says.

When the Morgan family relocated to Santry after Jody was appointed as the head groundsman of the Trinity Sports Complex, where the Dublin footballers and hurlers used to train, a 13-year-old Eoin switched cricket clubs, joining Malahide, and earned a scholarship to CUS.

Shortly after yesterday’s final, former Dublin footballer Paul Clarke recalled on Twitter how Eoin Morgan used to collect balls during their training sessions during the summer of 1995, the year the Boys in Blue lifted the Sam Maguire. 

“He would have played hurling, he would have played Gaelic football, he would have played rugby,” Jody says. “But cricket was always the one.

Australia v England - ICC World Cup - Semi Final - Edgbaston Morgan is England's most-capped ODI player. Source: Nigel French

“It makes it all the more satisfying for me. My father left us cricket, nothing else. We never had anything.

“It’s a great story. Kevin Jennings at CUS is responsible for it, Dublin GAA, they changed our lives when we moved to Santry.

“That facilitated Eoin’s success to a certain degree, it gave me the security of work and I then had the time to go with him. Sometimes when I was meant to be working, I was at cricket with Eoin.

“I got a call from Keith Barr this morning, John Costello last night, all of the people that have facilitated Eoin and all of the people that have facilitated us in turn.”

The hope now is that Eoin Morgan will bring the World Cup trophy back to Rush.

“He’s a proud Irishman,” Jody adds. “Even way before a World Cup or anything like that, I used to say just be careful what we say because I would see him coming back to coach Ireland in time, and he would say ‘yeah’.

He’d never close the door on anything. I would see him in that capacity in years to come, and I hope I live to see it.

“In the short term, I know he’s signed up for the new European Twenty20 league and he would love to come back and play [in Ireland] in that.

“There is nothing I would love better than to see him play in Dublin, or in any part of Ireland, and there would be nobody more pleased if Eoin brought the World Cup trophy back to Rush to celebrate. It would be some homecoming, yeah.”

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