Bullish English urges Carlow to follow Mount Leinster Rangers and make history
WITH the Walsh Cup final being played in Croke Park again this season, Carlow hurlers have a massive carrot dangling in front of them in tomorrow's home semi-final against Galway.
But their new manager Pat English flatly declares: "It doesn't matter if it's played on top of Mount Leinster, all we are concentrating on is winning our next game."
Few realistically expect the Division 2A side to turn over the Tribesmen, yet how English has already gone about things indicates that Carlow's effort and ambition will match his own this year.
When he took over from John Meyler last winter he had a written wish-list.
John Allen's name was top of it and though he had no direct connections with the successful former Cork and Limerick manager, English managed to land him.
"I just rang John up and asked him," he revealed.
"I didn't know him before but we're getting to know him since. He's not just an advisor, he is a key part of the process. Obviously he is a fountain of knowledge, but he also has a great attitude."
English may be new to senior inter-county management but he is steeped in hurling and managed the county's U-21s for the past two years.
His late father was Jim English of Wexford fame, who later served Carlow county board with such distinction, and Pat won an All-Ireland 'B' with the county in 1992.
Among his initiatives has been strengthening the hurlers' partnership with Carlow IT, which now competes in the Fitzgibbon Cup.
That college team includes young county star Marty Kavanagh, and Carlow have been significantly boosted also by the return of his St Mullins' team-mate Seamus Murphy this season after a few years in New Zealand.
Another of Carlow's key men, Shane Kavanagh, is also currently available and training, despite a job that periodically takes him abroad.
And for inspiration they need look no further than Mount Leinster Rangers who, just this time last year, put Carlow hurling firmly on the map with their fairytale run to the All-Ireland club final.
"What Mount Leinster did had never been done before but they got turned over in this year's (county) semi-finals," English noted.
"That's because everyone else raised their standards to take them on and that's what we hope to continue. That's the challenge we've set the players."