Colin Dunford: Being in a WhatsApp group with DJ Carey is unbelievable
Waterford star Colin Dunford has nothing but admiration for his IT Carlow manager, Kilkenny legend DJ Carey, and admits it's a bit surreal to be at close quarters with one of his childhood heroes.
Speaking at today's Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup draw in Croke Park, where they were drawn in Group B alongside DCU, St Pats Mater Dei and 2014 winners WIT, Dunford spoke of his admiration for Carey and Mick Dempsey, who heads up the Sports Academy at the college.
"Having Mick and DJ on board is massive," Dunford said. "The two lads have done so much with Kilkenny and they know what they're about so we'll listen to them and do whatever they say.
"There's a great bond between team and manager. You dream about meeting DJ when you were younger and now he's your manager and you have the craic with him inside in a WhatsApp group. It's a bit unbelievable."
After securing back-to-back titles in the League, the All-Star nominee hopes Carlow can make the 2016 Fitzgibbon Cup weekend having fallen narrowly to LIT in this year's quarter-finals.
They hope to become a heavyweight of third-level hurling and picking up a first Fitzgibbon crown along the way would be an added bonus.
"The weekend is our goal next year and we want to be up there with UL, LIT and WIT and all the big teams in the Fitzgibbon Cup. To win it would be great but we're thinking of the weekend first."
2015 was a breakthrough year for the Deise with Derek McGrath's young guns gaining League success before going down to eventual champions Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.
In the wake of team-mate Maurice Shanahan documenting his struggles with depression and an attempted suicide attempt, Dunford praised the Lismore man for opening up and believes his example can have a positive effect on others with similar difficulties.
"It's absolutely fantastic what Maurice did and it was very brave of him," the 21-year-old said. "It's fantastic for young GAA players who are growing up and finding it hard that an idol like Maurice is after coming out and being honest.
"It helps people to come out and talk to someone and make sure that they're not holding it in so it can be nothing but positive for others."
Despite this year's exploits, the exciting Colligan Rockies attacker knows next year will be a further mountain which must be climbed.
"We'd like to push on and get to another Munster final but Clare will be a massive task, especially with Donal Og Cusack involved now," he said.
"They didn't do themselves justice the last two years but they're going to be there or thereabouts this year and we know how hard it's going to be to build on 2015."