Poacher takes inspiration from coolness of NFL's Brady
Carlow coach Steven Poacher insists Carlow will keep their cool tomorrow at Croke Park as they aim to end a 64-year wait to reach the Leinster SFC final.
The Barrowsiders take on Laois in the provincial semi-final, coming off the back of a winning run after victories over Louth and Kildare, which followed promotion from Division 4 and a promising 2017 campaign.
However, after suffering two league defeats in the space of a week against Laois last March, and having let a two-point lead slip against Monaghan heading into the last quarter of their Round 4 championship qualifier last year, Poacher has been looking for novel ways to help Carlow deal with pressure situations in big games.
"We've learned that it is a matter of when the game's in the mix and when the s**t hits the fan, that's when your top men stand up and they're coolness personified," said Poacher.
"I'm not an American football fan, but I love that guy Tom Brady. I showed a few clips of him one day to the lads. When he really needed it, when everybody else was losing their head around him, he kept his cool. And if you look at your last score against Kildare, that's a team that's learning."
Carlow's players have praised Poacher for helping manager Turlough O'Brien to mould an efficient defensive-counter-attacking game.
The Newry man took his first steps in coaching at Manchester Metropolitan University where he was awarded full colours for his contribution to Gaelic games.
He met O'Brien at the St Columban's school, where Poacher works as a teacher, and the Down man, a former U-21 coach in his native county, now undergoes a regular three-hour round trip for Carlow training sessions.
"I feel like a Carlow man," laughed Poacher. "It's been a wonderful journey. I came in last year and maybe brought in a little bit of attritional Ulster warfare to the set-up, is how people would describe it.
"For me, when you're building a house, you have a strong foundation… In any sport, you start with your defence, you get it sorted out and you build."