The story of Gaoth Dobhair's centre forward: Born in Letterkenny, raised in Japan and Australia 1 week ago

The story of Gaoth Dobhair's centre forward: Born in Letterkenny, raised in Japan and Australia

Naoise Ó Baoill came over to Gaoth Dobhair when he was 12.

He didn't have a word of Irish and he didn't have a clue about Gaelic football.

That was far from a head start in a place where Gaelic is the religion and Gaeilge is the language but little Naoise, not two hands higher than a duck, was as quick to learn as he is with his feet.

Having spent the first 12 years of his life between Japan and Australia, the gloomy Gaoth Dobhair clouds were just another harsh greeting but the lead of his cousin Daire was a safe path to follow and with that trail more often than not ending up at Gaoth Dobhair GAA pitch, it wasn't long before he was a Gaelic footballer and it wasn't long before he was just another one of the lads.

And these weren't just any bunch of lads.

We're talking about a golden generation of footballers that Gaoth Dobhair had been waiting on and that Gaoth Dobhair had been crying out for ever since they won that last Donegal title many moons ago back in 2006 and ever since things went downhill for that team soon after.

Things were about to change though.

Naoise's lads, lads like Michael Carroll, Cian Mulligan, Daire, Gary McFadden, Odhran McFadden Ferry, Seaghan Ferry and co. were coming through and they meant business.

From under-16 to under-21, that bunch of players were never beaten and they rounded off that whirlwind underage journey with an Ulster under-21 title in February of this year.

Ten of those men were starting on Sunday in Omagh against Scotstown, Naoise included and they were about to become the club's first ever Ulster senior champions.

Teach Mhicí, Kevin Cassidy's pub and the social hub of Gaoth Dobhair is like something out of American Pie now and it will be that way until Christmas but in between the hums and beats of October Cherries' beautiful Sunday - the team's theme song - Odhran Mac Niallais had a few moments to tell Colm Parkinson and the GAA Hour Show about Naoise's journey from Japan to an Ulster final.

"Yeah, wee Naoise, he's a star. He's a great wee player, isn't he," said Mac Niallais from a lounge in Micís pub.

"He lived in Japan and he lived in Australia. I knew him from a very young age from when he first came to Ireland. My dad and his dad would be very good mates and he'd have been knocking about my place when he was only a young fella.

Ulster finals weren't really on the agenda when Naoise first came to Gaoth Dobhair but things have changed as quickly as their number 11 can get down under an O'Neill's size five and take it to the other end of the pitch with him.

"Little did I know that he'd be winning an Ulster championship with him a couple of years later. It's great for him, great for his family," continued Mac Niallais.

"They spent a while in Japan, and then his dad got a job in Australia so they moved there for a while and then they came back to Ireland."

His father a Gaoth Dobhair man, his mother from Japan, they're settled in the Gaeltacht now.

They've been in Ireland for ten years or so, so they've been here a long time," he added.

History has been made and there's more to make.

Ó Baoill, who played a key role in running many a centre back ragged along the way, will have a big part to play in it.

You can listen to the Mac Niallais and Friel interviews, and much more from Monday's GAA Hour Show here.