By Kieran Murphy
THERE cannot be too many players preparing for the Leinster senior hurling championship who have climbed Croagh Patrick recently. Richard Coady did as much on Easter Saturday. With Galway and Kilkenny providing the opposition in the first two matches of the Leinster championship, you could say Coady was mentally preparing himself for the sporting peaks which must be scaled in the weeks ahead.
As it turns out, it wasn’t something he planned. It just happened.
“We went away for a few days over the Bank Holiday weekend to Castlebar. When I was over that far I said I might as well do Croagh Patrick. Colm (Bonnar) knew that and there was no harm. I came down unscathed so I was happy enough,” he reasoned.
A three-and-a-half-hour journey back to Waterford for a practice game the following day wasn’t ideal but there was a little bit of give and take from the player.
“If you are away for a weekend, you don’t want to be missing too many training sessions or practice games. Those are the sacrifices you make.”
Even though he has won an All-Ireland intermediate club title and appeared in a senior club final with Mount Leinster Rangers, Richard admits he never envisaged he would be pitting himself against some of the best intercounty players in Ireland. After all, Carlow struggled when losing three Division 2A league finals to Kerry (2014), Westmeath (2016) and Antrim (2017).
“You would always, when playing intercounty, dream of it but the reality is I didn’t think it would happen. Not in my lifetime. There were so many times we got to league finals and lost them,” he recalled.
Then came the breakthrough when Carlow beat Westmeath in the league final and this was followed up by the Joe McDonagh Cup victory. Definitely glory years. In the lead-up to the Joe McDonagh competition, no-one knew what to expect.
“We were going into unknown territory,” said Coady.
“Hurling against Laois and Antrim who were hurling in 1B of the national league. We probably looked at them as being a step higher up the ladder than us.
“It was fantastic going on to win it,” said Coady.
“I don’t think I could have envisaged myself going to Galway to play in the Leinster championship to tell you the truth. Kilkenny at home. It is something that dreams are made of. The whole panel is buzzing and we are really looking forward to Sunday.”
They made a film about a man who climbed up a mountain and came down a hill. There will be no hills (neither mentally or physically) in the weeks ahead. Mountains for sure, but Coady is physically and mentally prepared.
“The ground is hardening up, the weather is getting warmer so we are looking forward to championship hurling and the speed of the ball getting faster.
“It was so important we retained our status in the league. It gave us a real feel-good factor in that club month. Regardless of what happens we have division one hurling to look forward to next year. Obviously we are looking forward to putting in a performance and see where that takes us,” says the Rangers man.
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
Sunday 12 May: Galway v Carlow, Pearse Stadium, 3pm
Sunday 19 May: Carlow v Kilkenny, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
Sunday 2 June: Carlow v Dublin, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
Saturday 8 June: Wexford v Carlow, Wexford Park, 7pm