If all goes well today, Nathan Breen might just be the first Welsh man to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand and hoist an All-Ireland title over his head.
That is if he and his Beaufort companions can overcome the challenge of Sligo’s Easkey this afternoon in HQ (K.O 3pm).
For Breen, his life began in the Welsh valleys, far away from the Gaelic footballing stronghold of County Kerry. Despite the logistical disadvantages, Breen was honing his GAA skills from an early age thanks to a father who ensured that his family never forgot their roots.
“My father is from Beaufort and my mother is Welsh.” said Breen.
“I was 13 when I moved over from Wales. I moved over in 2006. The only bit of exposure I had to Gaelic football was watching Kerry plan on TV in an All-Ireland final.
My dad would bring me up to the park at the back of the house and he’d have me soloing and kicking points over the soccer goals.”
Practising the skills of the game with his father stood to Breen following their move to Kerry in 2006. He joined Beaufort and never looked back.
However, there were tough times in those early days, having a Welsh accent didn’t exactly help him to blend in and Breen was often targeted on the field because of it.
“The amount of grief I got starting out for a long portion of underage was tough stuff.
“If I had a euro for every time I was called a ‘fucking Black and Tan’ or an ‘English cunt’ – I had to listen to that for a good few years.”
The abuse never deterred Breen, in fact in some strange sort of way it helped him. It made sure he was able to gel with his teammates quicker, as they had his back.
“Playing football made the transition so much easier. Once you fall into those kind of set-ups, you’re a part of the team. Your teammates have your back.
“If anything, it gelled me quicker into the team. Since my first training session, I’ve always go tremendous support from teammates.”
It’s those same teammates that Breen now leads into an All-Ireland final in Croke Park, and he admits that in the build-up he has often found his mind wandering towards how it would feel to get over the line today.
He’s not dreaming of being the first Welsh man to lift an All-Ireland title, he’s dreaming of lifting the cup on behalf of those teammates that have been there for him from day one.
“Lying in bed and stuff or during any bit of commuting, you’d kind of drift off and (imagine it).
“It would be fantastic, not for me personally, but to be standing in the Hogan Stand lifting a cup on behalf of lads I played my whole career with, guys who’ve represented the club for years.
“Our goalkeeper Taylor, he’s been on the go for close to two decades I’d say. And he probably hasn’t missed too many games. If you were able to lift the cup for the likes of those lads, it would be fantastic to look back on in years to come.”