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Aidan eager to seize chance to drive Carr legacy forward

 

By Declan Bogue

The conversation is meandering down a path, as Aidan Carr talks about the role his family have had in Down's glorious history. His grandfather, also called Aidan, was a substitute on the junior All-Ireland-winning team of 1946, his granduncle Barney was the manager of the side that won three All-Ireland titles in the 1960s and his own father Ross was a central player in the two Sam Maguire triumphs in the 1990s.

"The two sisters as well, they have won All-Irelands and All-Stars! I really am the black sheep at this stage," he laughed.

Of course. Sara-Louise and Fionnuala have won All-Irelands with Down in camogie. As for his younger brothers, Charlie's place in the county minors side last year was taken by young Ross this campaign.

But Aidan isn't really asking himself when it will be his turn.

"You can't really over-analyse it," he said.

"I have had a very enjoyable football career and I have lost more finals than anyone should have to.

"I have won an Ulster Under-21 medal with Down, a Sigerson Cup and a Ryan Cup. That's really it. I suppose you keep coming back. Whatever about last year and not winning, always at the back of your mind is 'we have a chance'.

"On a one-off day, if everything goes your way, you have a chance. The problem with Down is that on all those one-off days, we never gave ourselves a chance.

"We didn't work hard enough, we threw in the towel, we didn't do enough to give ourselves a chance of winning."

On the county panel since Paddy O'Rourke's final year in 2006, Carr's career has had a stop-start flavour to it, not least during the 2010 season when they reached an All-Ireland decider but he missed most of it with injury.

The First Derivatives employee has a newly-found reflective look on life in any case. Last December, little Eabha came along and his daughter was the first grandchild for both his and his wife Mary's families.

Soon after, a gym programme for the year ahead landed in his inbox from strength and conditioning coach Ciaran Sloan. Mary insisted that if he was to go back, he was to do it without half-measures and now here he is ahead of an Ulster final against Tyrone.

Carr said of parenthood: "You really have no idea until it comes. A couple of my friends have babies and they would say this, that and the other, but until you have to change a nappy at four o'clock in the morning, nobody prepares you for that.

"It has been tough. But on the upside Eabha is now six months old. She has been to two Down games, two Championship games!

"It's been really nice for me to have Mary and Eabha there after the match. It's a completely different feeling.

"She is not going to remember any of this, but lucky enough we will have pictures to show her later on in life. Whenever I was growing up, and into my 20s, it was just all about football and nothing else. I had no idea about family or any of that sort of stuff."

He's making up for it now though.

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