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Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE Niall Daly ahead of the AIB Connacht club SFC final.
# Showdown
'We actually live in county Galway' - no divided loyalties for Daly brothers ahead of Corofin clash
Padraig Pearses face four-in-a-row chasing Corofin in Sunday’s Connacht club SFC final.

CONSIDERING HE LIVES just inside the Galway border, his father hails from Offaly and he attended secondary school in Westmeath, it would be reasonable to assume that Niall Daly has divided loyalties, but he’s a Rossie through and through. 

The Padraig Pearses man, the oldest of the four Daly brothers on the team, is gearing up for a crack at Tribe kingpins Corofin in the Connacht club SFC final on Sunday.

The 28-year-old, who was part of Anthony Cunningham’s team that upset the Tribesmen in this year’s Connacht final, admits he felt the Galway-Roscommon rivalry intensely growing up.

“I don’t normally say it on the record but where we live – we live down a road and we’re on the border,” he says. 

“The road is split by Galway and Roscommon. We actually live in county Galway so growing up, we would have got a lot of grief off the Ballinasloe GAA club for not playing with them, but how and ever that’s the way it is. 

“Pearses were the nearer club and they had a good underage structure at the time. Once we went down there numbers were big.

“Growing up we were a Division 1 team and we were always competitive U12 all the way up. Dad would have got himself involved too so it was a no-brainer to be playing there. 

“Mam’s from Galway and Dad’s from Offaly so we’re in the middle of both.

“I went to school in Creagh National School which would be on the Galway side. The four of us went to secondary school in Athlone Community College which would be in Westmeath so we’re a bit all over the place really.”

niall-carty-and-ronan-daly-lift-the-championship-cup Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO Niall Carty and Ronan Daly lift the Fahey Cup. Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO / INPHO

Daly recalls their back garden being “mini Croke Park” when he was growing up alongside Conor (26), Ronan (24) and Lorcan (21).

“Me and Lorcan would have played together versus Conor and Ronan, kind of games like that. We would have been competitive with each other, in a healthy way.

“But in saying that, Mam will tell you we wouldn’t hold back on each other either. Which is probably normal enough for most households.” 

Those battles served them well for what was to come, but Daly admits their frustrations with one another can still spill on the field over from time to time. 

“We get on well. On the field at times, anyone from the club would tell you, we can be our own worst critics. We’re the first to shout at each other or let each other know that we expect better.

“But generally we’d get on well. We’d be constructive enough. A lot of the talk, Dad would be mad to join in and talk at home about football, but we generally don’t like to talk about it at home. We get enough of it outside of that.”

In truth, lifting the Fahey Cup was probably the sum of Padraig Pearses’ ambitions at the start of the year but now they find themselves in a provincial final against a team who haven’t lost a championship game in Galway or Connacht since 2015.

Is it the biggest game in the club’s history?

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“Absolutely,” agrees Daly. “Every game for the last few weeks has been. It’s unknown territory. A huge game.

“The club is taking off. Everything is being supported and we have loads of sponsors getting involved. It’s a good time to be Pearses club member at the moment.”

padraig-pearses-celebrate Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO The Padraig Pearses celebrate their county title success. Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO / INPHO

Tourlestrane were accounted for in the Connacht quarter-final before they survived a potentially tricky encounter in London, which brought its own challenges. 

“The London trip really brought the club together. There was a huge crowd over there. In a funny way there were people over there that wouldn’t be at a match in the club-pitch! But it’s been brilliant. 

“When we beat Tourlestrane, everyone was excited. Players, management and supporters were excited to go. When we got over there, the players realised this wasn’t a holiday. We did have that on the Saturday night.

“There were a few warnings sent out for a few lads to be in bed for certain times. We were showing we were ambassadors for the club and you were looking at your social media on your phone saying, ‘They’re having some party down the road!’

“It wasn’t easy. We went there with Roscommon a few years ago – I would know what it’s like. It’s not really a holiday. It’s not a fun trip really. We want to just get out there, with a one-point win at the very worst. Thankfully we did.”

They’re well aware of the challenge that faces them this weekend, but Pearses are very much in bonus territory.

“It is a release. We know we’re going into the lion’s den on Sunday. We’re playing a team that a lot of people around the country admire for their brand of football. 

“They’re admired in club terms on a level similar to Dublin. We are looking forward to it. We know it’s a huge challenge. We are in bonus territory but we want to do ourselves justice on the day. 

“Sunday’s game – winter football, Tuam being a heavy enough pitch, it probably brings us a small bit closer, possibly. You’re looking at them, they were lucky to draw with Tuam the first day. 

“If we can produce a performance and they are a small bit off their level, we have some sort of a chance. It’s all about us producing a performance, our work rate, playing a man in the right position. Small little things might get us closer to them and we’ll be trying to focus on that.”

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