Captain’s role for Beaufort ‘blow-in’ Nathan Breen
Player who lived in Wales until he was 13 will lead out the Kerry club in the junior football club final
Nathan Breen of Beaufort. “When you’re further out the field you can have a bit more of an influence on the game, and you can kind of be involved a bit more.” Photograph: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
The road less travelled: Nathan Breen captains Beaufort in Saturday’s All-Ireland junior club football final against Sligo’s Easkey. On one level his career is predictable because his father is from the small parish under Carrauntohill, but on another it’s another one of those Kerry football yarns.
“Anyone named Breen living in Beaufort is expected to represent the club,” he says. “I lived in Wales until I was 13. My family moved back in 2006. That’s when I started playing football.
“I’d seen Kerry games and stuff like that. My dad had me up at the park above at the house in Wales, teaching me how to kick a ball with my hands. It was only that summer I got the full exposure to the game.”
In Wales his first game was rugby, although his mother, Francine, had been a class-mate at school of Wales soccer international Ian Rush. He got a feel for football on holidays back in his father’s home place, so he wasn’t an absolute beginner when the family relocated.
“I remember my first game. I was 13, with the under-14s. Below in Killorglin. They put me wing forward. Let me off. It was like a cow being introduced to a field for the first time. I was just running around, not doing anything. Looking back at my dad, trying to get direction off him every now and again, and he would be pointing up and down the field. Sure, it was wasted on me for the first few weeks.
“I think they soon realised that wing forward was beyond me. I was playing corner-back, full-back from 13 up until the last one or two years maybe, and then I was kind of more central, and then this year now is my first year I’ve been playing midfield; it’s been my position all year.
“When you’re in the full-back line you’ve one job and just mark your man, that’s it. Whereas when you’re further out the field you can have a bit more of an influence on the game, and you can kind of be involved a bit more.”
He adapted so well that he captained the county under-21s under the management of one of the modern game’s most celebrated players Darragh Ó Sé.
“Yeah, it was great. Just to learn from a guy who’s been there and done that, and just seeing how he prepares for, let’s say, challenge games against intercounty teams and stuff like that. There was tremendous exposure at that age.”
Even should he captain an All-Ireland winning team, assimilation into Kerry won’t be 100 per cent. On St Patrick’s weekend an awkward situation arises in the Breen household when Ireland face Wales in their final last Six Nations match this year.
“Oh, Wales. Myself and my mother cheer for Wales, and my sister and my father have always cheered for Ireland. That day is always split down the middle in our house.”
Not this Saturday, though.