Given Aaron Oyiki's parents’ sporting backgrounds there was always a fair chance that he was going to make his mark on a pitch or a track somewhere.
The 17-year-old scored a thunderbolt goal for Roscommon minors off the bench in their Connacht championship win over Galway earlier in the summer and followed it up with two more against Leitrim.
In the process he became the first black player to represent the county, a fact that he’s proud of and the Athlone teenager, who plays for the Clann na nGael club, is confident that he won’t be the last.
"There’s people from all over playing; the GAA’s slogan is Belong and I think they’ve accomplished that," he said.
Oyiki references Westmeath’s Boidu Sayeh and Iraqi-born Leitrim hurler Zac Moradi, who won a Lory Meagher Cup medal this season, as further examples of Ireland’s diversity being represented in the country’s native games.
His parents, Dafe and Moses, moved to Ireland in 2002. Their eldest child, a daughter Valerie (22), was born in Nigeria, while sons Aaron, Josh (13) and Michael (8) are all Roscommon born and bred. Their story first came to light in the Roscommon Herald.
"Back home we’d never heard of Gaelic, but coming to Ireland it’s a very big sport so the kids that were born here are starting to do very well in this sport," said Dafe, who trained in sports science in Africa and is currently training to be an accountant.
"The local clubs are doing a great job trying to get the community to join in. There’s really a welcoming atmosphere for us as immigrants.
"The Athlone people are really very welcoming and made us feel at home. I want to make mention of Valerie’s former principal, John O’Neill. When we first came he made us feel welcome, he’d come to our house to get Valerie to school because we were living on the far side of Athlone, and introducing us to other families. We settled in very, very well."
Dafe played hockey for Nigeria and Moses was a talented hurdler, reaching the peak of his athletics career when representing his country at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
The pair met in the University of Benin, in the Nigerian city of Benin, rather than the neighbouring country of the same name, and got to know each other when they went on trips to various competitions, eventually becoming a couple and marrying.
Dafe’s career highlight was playing in the John F Kennedy Memorial Field Hockey Tournament in Washington DC and she planned on playing in Ireland only for a knee injury to force her to stop.
A trip to Europe with his aunt, who worked in the Nigerian embassy in Germany, opened up Moses’s eyes to sport. He saw Yannik Noah, a tennis player with African roots, winning the 1983 French Open on television and it was a revelation.
He was a high jumper and 100m specialist at first, but at a secondary school sports day when he failed to win in either event he gave the 110m hurdles a bash and was immediately talent spotted.
Oyiki won gold at the 1991 African Games in Cairo and in 1996 he qualified for Atlanta.
"There was a lecturers’ strike, protesting about payments, and that’s the only way I could have attended the Olympics in Atlanta," he explained. "Without the strike there was no way I would have attended because it was exam time and I wanted to get out of school - it was going on too long."
Moses qualified as a lawyer in Nigeria and converted his qualifications at Blackhall Place in Dublin, even having to learn Irish as it was a requirement to practice law in the country at the time.
With his athletics career in wind-down and having just missed out of qualifying for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the couple decided to move abroad.
Taking up the story, Dafe says: "In my secondary school we had an Irish principal and some Irish teachers as well. My principal’s name was Sr Nora Culleton and when I came to Ireland first I met her again when I went to the convent in Cork, so we had come across Irish people.
"We thought it would be nice to bring our children up abroad because we saw what was happening in our country and it wasn’t where we wanted to bring up our children. So we decided to come to Ireland."
Moses added: "We thought we might go back, but when we were sure of ourselves we left our jobs. Ireland has been great; no regrets."
Aaron finished his Leaving Cert in June and is looking forward to college in autumn. Before then he will be busy with Clan na nGael’s minors and the whole family will be cheering on Roscommon in the Super 8s.
Meet Aaron Oyiki, the @roscommonGAA minor footballer with impressive athletic pedigree courtesy of his Olympian father and hockey-playing mother. Report by @sweeney_peter #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/EkADRrdRXP— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) July 11, 2019
Follow all the weekend's Super 8s action via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch Dublin v Cork on RTÉ2 and Kerry v Mayo on RTÉ1 and listen to national radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and Raidió na Gaeltachta.