Ahead of Mount Leinster Rangers' AIB All-Ireland Club Hurling final against Portumna on St Patrick's Day, we caught up with the Carlow champions' centre-back Richard Coady.
Interview: Brian Murphy
Coady, one of four brothers on the team, has been a central figure in Rangers' incredible rise to the pinnacle of the club game and featured prominently in their Carlow, Leinster and All-Ireland semi-final victories.
The 25-year-old, who also represents Carlow at inter-county level, was recently named as the Leinster Club Hurler of the Year and will be one of MLR's most important figures when they look to make more history in Croke Park next Monday.
What was the turning point of your season to date?
Against Castletown-Geoghegan (Westmeath) in the Leinster Championship quarter-final up in Mullingar when we were five points down at half-time. We needed to dig deep in that second half and I think the belief the lads showed and the work-rate they put in gave us belief that there’s something more in this team.
And your personal highlight of the campaign?
It has to be the final whistle at the Leinster final (against Oulart-The Ballagh). I can only imagine what it is like in Croke Park on club finals day, but the crowd that day in Nowlan Park, when the final whistle was blown, was phenomenal. I couldn’t hear someone standing five yards away from me. The roar that went up every time we cleared a ball or got a score was sensational. I’ll never forget it.
Given you are so close to the Wexford border, was it extra special to beat Oulart’ in the Leinster final?
Down in Wexford, Oulart’ are legendary and must be given credit for everything they have done down there because five titles in a row is an unbelievable feat. I might be only five minutes from the Wexford border. We’re right down the south and only five minutes from the Kilkenny border as well so you bump into people from both counties every day and I always enjoy hurling against Wexford with Carlow.
Was there any point in the campaign when the idea of playing in Croke Park seemed further away than ever?
The very first day in the Carlow Championship we were up against Ballinkillen and we drew that day. People were getting ahead of themselves and we needed to take a step back, look at things again and take it back to ground level. That stands out.
What has it meant to the people of Borris, Ballymurphy and Rathanna in south Co. Carlow to have such an incredible run all the way to the senior club finals in Croke Park?
St Patrick’s Day is the pinnacle for any club team in the country. It’s cliché but it means the absolute world to us as a community. We’ve had some tough and hard days down there as a club and as a community so just to see the joy on people’s faces when you win big games is unbelievable.
Honours: 6 Carlow SHC, 1 Leinster,
1 All-Ireland Club IHC
After every game in Leinster you could see the joy and pride people had in us and we are just delighted to represent the people. It gave everyone a massive lift to win the Leinster title and it still does to this day. You can see people down there at the minute and they are walking on air. All they can do is talk about hurling. Sometimes as a player you might like to get away from it but as a community to be here on St Patrick’s Day is unbelievable, and as a team it is a dream come true.
Tell us a little bit about exactly where you are from and the history of Mount Leinster Rangers?
The club is made of up of three small areas. Borris is a small town and Ballymurphy, where I am from, would be a small village. Rathanna then is just a clatter of houses. They are three very small areas which once had a small club each, and back in 1987 they combined to form the one club. There were a lot of men who worked very hard back then to make it happen and there is still a lot of hard work going on and it’s a credit to them.
Are there any unsung heroes at the club?
They come as a trio, our selectors Shane Murray, Christy Kealy and John Coleman. The three of them work tirelessly for the club and are great club men. They retired themselves just before the good years but that didn’t deter them and they came back as selectors and are reaping the rewards. They devote themselves to training, getting information on the opposition and making sure we are fully prepared as a team.
When did you first get involved with the senior team in MLR?
I’m 25 now and I first played with the senior team in 2005 when we were beaten in the county final. 2006 then was the first year we won it and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in most of the big days we have had since then.
With three brothers involved it must be a particularly special time for your family…
I have three brothers on the team – John, Paul and Ed. Eddie – ‘Wise Ed’ – would be the oldest at 35 or 36 and Paul then is the youngest of the four at 21. It’s going to be a massively proud day here on St Patrick’s Day. It’s great to be able to go out on the field every day with my three brothers. I have cousins involved too – James and Willie Hickey, Denis Murphy and Jack Murphy.
It was unbelievable stepping out onto the pitch in Croke Park two years ago for the Intermediate final with your club, with your family and your friends and it will be again. These lads are the best of friends. They would never do anything to risk what we have and are the best bunch you could wish for.