Bray People

‘We need one hell of a per­for­mance’

‘No pres­sure on Carnew’ says Hickey

- BREN­DAN LAWRENCE Sports Editor Sports · Jim Bob Duggar · James Hickey · County Carlow · John Doyle · Jim Doyle · John Henderson

FOR three years now James Hickey has made the jour­ney from south Carlow to the town of Carnew where he has fallen in love with the lo­cal GAA club but most im­por­tantly the group of play­ers he will send into bat­tle on Sun­day in what is the big­gest game of their hurl­ing lives.

Fac­ing them is a Bray team who have re­cov­ered from that early de­feat to Gle­nealy and have dis­man­tled ev­ery team they’ve played with stun­ning sec­ond-half per­for­mances.

This will be Hickey’s third county fi­nal with the club. De­feat to Gle­nealy in 2018 and to Ti­na­hely in the IFC de­cider are what the records show so a vic­tory on Sun­day would both heal the hurt of those losses but also be­ing an end to a drought that is keenly felt just be­low the sur­face in the hurl­ing mad town.

From very early on there’s been a dif­fer­ent feel to this Carnew side, and in more ways than one. Po­si­tion­ally, per­son­nel wise, at­ti­tude and en­deav­our are just some of the el­e­ments that seem to have shifted in a pos­i­tive sense in 2020.

The lock­down af­fected Carnew the same as it did ev­ery other team but James Hickey says that the hon­esty of the play­ers in his group meant he had com­plete con­fi­dence that they were do­ing their pro­grammes and that the ev­i­dence to back that up was abun­dantly clear when they ar­rived in the club for their first train­ing ses­sion.

‘We didn’t get to play any­thing. On Septem­ber 28 last year we got beaten in the IFC semi-fi­nal and our first match this year then was a chal­lenge hurl­ing and foot­ball matches in the space of a week. I think we were nine or 10 weeks short of a year play­ing our next game.

‘In fair­ness to the play­ers they were do­ing their pro­grammes dur­ing the lock­down and as a group I knew that there was fierce trust within that group and I knew the pro­grammes would be car­ried out and I sup­pose we seen that in the flesh the first night we went back train­ing. The lads were re­ally in good shape. I have to give huge credit to the lads. Theyb took lead­er­ship there and they were go­ing to be ready when some­thing hap­pened.

‘Three years ago, I went in there and I didn’t re­ally know the county or what you’d be fac­ing. It took a year to fig­ure it out but we got to both fi­nals (hurl­ing and foot­ball) and we made a bit of progress. And then last year we played one chal­lenge game in hurl­ing and one in foot­ball and we played 38 games in 40 weeks. The foot­ball league dou­bled up. We went to both quar­ter-fi­nals, both semi-fi

nals. It was a long year. We lost Robert Lam­bert, a huge loss to us. He was a great man around the set up. Ian Clancy was one who was go­ing to be com­ing as well, and we lost him as well. Through no fault of any­one it should be said. It’s just the way it worked out. They went home and their own club put in a team and that’s great for Aughrim.

‘This year there’s a great group there. There’s af­ter be­ing a bit of re­build­ing go­ing on. We’ve got to the county fi­nal. I think we’ve done well. I think we’ve hurled well. There’s great hon­esty as I said be­fore. There are no tags with th­ese lads. There’s no ‘they must win for x, y or z. We’re gone be­yond that; we’re gone a dif­fer­ent route. This is a new era. Th­ese are new play­ers. None of them have bag­gage. They’re just a good group of play­ers who want to push on now and that’s what they’re do­ing. Sun­day will see where that takes them.

‘We’re like fam­ily. I don’t say that lightly. There’s none of those play­ers who I’ve had an is­sue with. There’s very strong mu­tual re­spect there. I be­lieve in what they’re about and they be­lieve in what I’m about, and the process. I think there’s a great bond there and over the last three years there’s been a huge re­build­ing process. We’re go­ing into this county fi­nal with six or seven of the team who started in the fi­nal three years ago gone, and maybe 10 in the squad over­all.

‘But there are young lads com­ing through there. We got six lads from the Mi­nors last year. They’ve stepped in and it’s an ab­so­lute credit to the ju­ve­nile struc­ture in Carnew for the work that they’re do­ing. You got John Doyle and Paudi (McGing) in the last few years and now you’ve got six lads, Corma (Red­mond), Conor (Wafer), the two Youngs (Eoin and John), Eoin Ka­vanagh and James McGing and they’re ready made.

It’s not like they were av­er­age play­ers. They’re good play­ers. They all have Mi­nor medals and it will just tell you the work that is go­ing on that you can just pro­duce six play­ers. The fu­ture is look­ing good for them.

‘I con­sider my­self blessed ev­ery time I drive down there. It’s such a great group to work with. Any­thing you ask them to do, it’s done. There’s huge ad­mi­ratiuon from my side. And any­one we’ve brought in for a ses­sion, they al­ways re­mark on the huge re­spect within the group. It’s a bril­liant en­vi­ron­ment,’ he said.

Hickey and his man­age­ment team se­lected Jack Doyle as their cap­tain this year. Doyle is a hugely re­spected club and county hurler and a real leader on and off the field.

‘When I ar­rived in Carnew three years ago I was told that th­ese lads had hurled Se­nior for long enough and that it was time for them (to de­liver). But we still had a gap. There was a decade missed where lads em­i­grated or what not.

‘When I look back on it now there was pres­sure heaped on those young lads, the En­das (Dono­hoe), the Waynes (Kin­sella), the Padraig Do­rans. They’re still rel­a­tively very young. And in that group, you had Jack (Doyle). And Jack for me over the last three years, just year on year get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. He’s a priv­i­lege to be around. He’s a priv­i­lege to watch him work. His fa­ther (Jim Bob) is a big part of Carnew hurl­ing. He’s fight­ing his own bat­tle at the mo­ment. Even be­fore we thought of giv­ing Jack the cap­taincy, we won­dered if it would be too much pres­sure on him. Since we’ve given him the role he’s just ploughed on and ev­ery day you go out there’s trust you can put in play­ers and you can put any amount of trust in Jack. And fi­nals can take on a life of their own and some­times it’s the lad you don’t ex­pect who de­liv­ers in a lot of th­ese fi­nals, but there’s one thing about Jack Doyle, when he puts on that Carnew jersey he de­liv­ers, that means some­thing to him,’ said James Hickey.

Bray Em­mets are com­ing. Paul Car­ley has a squad lit­tered with hurl­ing tal­ent from Jim Doyle in the goals to Davy Maloney in cor­ner-for­ward. Hickey is ex­pect­ing what ev­ery­one else is, a se­ri­ous bat­tle.

‘I’m ex­pect­ing a huge bat­tle. It is what it is. They’re county cham­pi­ons, they’re there on merit. They’re a nice team, they’re filled with nice hurlers in lots of ar­eas. It’s like any great team, though. Some­body has to try and chop them down and that’s our job on Sun­day. We know what’s on front of us. There’s a train com­ing down the track but all year... where we will spend time think­ing about Bray and what they’re go­ing to bring to the party, you can get lost in that and you end up not play­ing your own game and lads can get wor­ried about an in­struc­tion than go­ing out and play­ing their own game.

‘I think Sun­day you’ll see a Carnew team who will take the field and ir­re­spec­tive of what­ever jersey is in front of them the in­struc­tion they’ll have is to play with free­dom. At the same time, we’re not delu­sional. This is a fan­tas­tic set up, a fan­tas­tic team that we’re fac­ing, right through from their goal­keeper, right through John Hen­der­son, Padraig Doyle, Christy (Moore­house), Master­son, Boland, they have them all. But, at the end of the day, they’re names, and they’ve de­liv­ered on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions for Bray but Sun­day they’ll have to de­liver no more than we’ll have to de­liver and it’s who­ever de­liv­ers that per­for­mance will win the game.

‘Work is mas­sive. We know that. Th­ese Carnew play­ers have been in the busi­ness end of this cham­pi­onship for three years. Sun­day will be their third fi­nal in three years (hurl­ing and foot­ball) but they’ve also been in six semi-fi­nals. Yes, they haven’t won any­thing but they’re push­ing hard and I think that gets lost a lit­tle bit.

‘All I know is that this Carnew squad is a great squad. They do what­ever they have to do for their jersey. They love what it’s about. It means a hell of lot to the them to go down and once they go in through that gate it’s all busi­ness for them. There’s no pres­sure on Carnew, ab­so­lutely no pres­sure on Carnew, no pres­sure on them boys go­ing down to Aughrim on Sun­day. It’s all about Bray, they’re the cham­pi­ons. We know that. For us to beat Bray we’re go­ing to have to de­liver a hell of a per­for­mance. Is it in us? It is, yeah. It’s there, but you have to get it out on the day.

‘Come 4.30pm on Sun­day, that’s when it starts.’

 ??  ?? Carnew Em­mets man­ager James Hickey.
Carnew Em­mets man­ager James Hickey.

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