Irish Parents Spot Talent At An Early Age

October 07, 1990|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER - Often in the United States you hear proud parents say their child "looks like a football player" when he is born.

But how often do you think you would hear it in Northern Ireland?

When Malachy and Geraldine McAlonan lived in their native Northern Ireland, Malachy said just that of their second son, Ciaran.

"When I first saw him I said, 'He's built like an American football player,' " Malachy said.

At that time, the McAlonans, of Westminster, had no idea they would one day live in the United States.

They also had no idea they would have three sons -- Stephen, 19; Ciaran, 18; and Mark, 12, all of whom play football and numerous other sports, and a daughter Pauline, 14, who runs cross country and track.

The McAlonan family emigrated in 1976 to Bassano, Canada, a small town about 90 miles southeast of Calgary.

They lived in Bassano, where Malachy worked as an engineer, until 1984 and then settled in Carroll County.

"As long as I can remember, the children were always playing sports," Geraldine McAlonan said. "It really came natural to them and they often excelled because they enjoyed it so much."

While living in Bassano, the two older boys played baseball, soccer, swimming and, of course, ice hockey.

It wasn't until they moved to Westminster that they got their first taste of football, signing up in the Gamber/Smallwood program while in middle school.

Stephen, 19, now a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is playing yet another sport these days -- lacrosse.

He enjoyed a successful athletic career during his high school days at Westminster, where he played varsity football and began playing lacrosse in his junior year.

"Stephen is an outstanding person," said Jeff Oeming, head football coach of Westminster. "He is really dedicated and someone you can always count on."

In his senior year at Westminster Stephen led the team in receptions as a wide receiver. He was also a scholar-athlete award winner and was named the Owls' outstanding defensive player in lacrosse.

Today he has turned his full attention to lacrosse and electrical engineering, his major at Carnegie Mellon.

"Of all the sports I've played, I enjoy lacrosse the most. I like the combination of speed, coordination and endurance it contains," Stephen said.

Ciaran has continued his football career at West Virginia University, where he is a red-shirt freshman.

"He is a great all-around athlete, very strong and fast," Oeming said.

"He has a lot of spirit and intensity and may have played the greatest individual game offensively and defensively I've ever seen a year ago against North Carroll."

Ciaran is currently playing tight end on the freshman team at West Virginia.

"Things are going pretty well here," said Ciaran, who is majoring in business. "So far, I've caught at least one ball in every freshman game and the coaches have shown confidence in me."

The only daughter in the family, Pauline, also is an avid athlete.

Now in her sophomore year at Westminster, Pauline earned a varsity letter in the 400 and 800 meters and the high jump in track and field last year. This year she is running on the junior varsity cross country team.

She also would like to play basketball for the Owls in the winter.

After high school, Pauline wants to go to Johns Hopkins University and become a doctor.

Mark is now in middle school and would like to follow in his brothers' footsteps by playing football for Westminster High.

He has played three years in the Gamber/Smallwood program and, yes, he is a wide receiver. This year he broke his wrist in a bicycle accident and must sit out the season.

Mark also enjoys playing basketball.

"We always support them in everything they do and have never put any pressure on them," Malachy McAlonan said. "We have encouraged them to do the best they can and I guess you can say we've been blessed."

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