Cats star Chris Bolger puts family ties and friendships on hold
Family ties will put to one side tomorrow night when Kilkenny's Chris Bolger goes into battle against his Carlow cousins and former clubmates in the Leinster U-21 hurling semi-final.
Having been born in Clara, Co Kilkenny, Bolger moved away from the area for three years and used to play alongside cousin Jack Murphy, Diarmuid Byrne and several other of the current Carlow crop at U-12 and U-14 level for Mount Leinster Rangers.
Carlow captain Martin 'Mouse' Kavanagh is also related to the Clara native - and they lined out together in this year's Fitzgibbon Cup - but they will be in opposite corners at Netwatch Cullen Park (7.30).
Bolger (right) admits that it will be peculiar lining out against both his family and former clubmates.
"It's going to be interesting alright to play against a few of the Mount Leinster Rangers lads that I hurled with for a few years," he explained.
"I also won an All-Ireland third-level league with IT Carlow this year playing alongside the cousin 'Mouse', so there's a lot of different stories."
Despite his time with Rangers, Bolger always dreamed of playing for Kilkenny.
"Putting on the black and amber jersey is what I always what I wanted to do," he said.
"Being from Clara and growing up hearing about the likes of Harry Ryan, Paddy Prendergast and Conor Phelan, I always wanted to achieve what they did.
"I've been very lucky to play for Kilkenny since U-14 and progress to play minor and U-21. This is my first year in with the seniors too so it's dream come through."
Last time out Kilkenny beat Dublin, with Bolger scoring a breathtaking goal. The pace of that encounter was phenomenal, and Bolger anticipates that the game against Carlow will be played in a similar fashion.
"Every game in this U-21 championship brings a huge intensity," he said.
"This game is going to be another one of high intensity and this is another big challenge that we are facing into."
Bolger knows as much about this Carlow U-21 side than anybody across the border and he knows the challenge that he and his Kilkenny team-mates are presented with.
"We are expecting a hard and physical fast game from Carlow," he said.
"They have a strong panel of players which was proven against Laois in the last round, so we are under no illusions that this is going to be a tough encounter and it's really a 50/50 game.
"We have a few minor injuries within the group, but all of the lads are putting in the hard recovery work so hopefully they will all be ready."
One thing's for sure is that there will be no regard for family or friends on the field - at least not for 60 minutes any way.