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Rhode footballer celebrates life in "unique" village in new book

Gina Fox

Reporter:

Gina Fox

Email:

gina.fox@alphanewspapers.co.uk

AS principal of Ballybryan National School, Brian Darby was surprised and bemused to discover that his young students knew so little about their local area and traditions.

Darby himself has been a Rhode and Offaly senior football stalwart for several years. He is one of an elite group of Rhode footballers that has ten Senior Football Championship medals – a colleague Alan McNamee holds the Offaly record with eleven – while he has made 88 league and championship appearances for Offaly from 2007 to 2018.

A very steady and consistent defender, he is continuing a proud family tradition in Ballybryan National School, located a short few miles from Rhode village, as he replaced his father Stephen as principal following his retirement. His appointment was a common sense one as he is immersed in the Rhode area and needless to say, the local GAA club were thrilled as football will continue to be promoted in the school.

As a former student himself in Ballybryan National School, Brian Darby grew up with an acute understanding of Rhode's heritage, particularly on the GAA fields. His father Stephen came on as a sub in the 1982 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final win over Kerry, his uncle Seamus scored the dramatic winning goal in the decider. It was ingrained in him through those family ties but a young Brian Darby was also very aware of the role that legendary figures such as Paddy McCormack, Eugene Mulligan, Martin Heavey, Jody Gunning, Johnny Mooney, Charlie Conroy and Mick Casey had made to many Offaly and Rhode successes.

Continued on page 58

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