All news

"These are things you dream of as a young lad" - Interview with Jack Kavanagh ahead of Leinster Club Semi Final at Croke Park

LWB Reporter
March 10, 2023

He's certainly no stranger when it comes to Hurling in Croke Park but on Sunday St Mullins linchpin Jack Kavanagh will be doing so on a stage that even he could scarcely believe was possible despite his undoubted confidence in both his own and his clubs ability.

Kavanagh has played in Leinster Minor Hurling Finals, Christy Ring Finals and Joe McDonagh Finals at Croke Park so his experience will no doubt be a factor come Sunday's showdown with Kilmacud Crokes at HQ.

Despite many great days in winning those Ring & McDonagh finals, Kavanagh admits that this is a dream for him and his club.

"It's a lot more special with the club. These are things you dream of as a young lad.

"Did I ever think I'd be going out in Croke Park wearing a St Mullins jersey? Probably not - especially at the latter stages of my career but I'm just delighted to be going out there with the club lads," he said.

There was a time when Carlow supporters would view a club win over Wexford opposition as sensational. However the bar has been raised and the win over Ferns last time out typifies where the level and standard is now at for Carlow teams with this victory coming as no real shock to those who know their Hurling in the county.

This is a real key indicator to the strides that the game has made in the county over the past decade or so.

"I think to everyone outside Carlow it was probably a bit of a shock but I was fairly confident going up that we would beat Ferns.

"Although we squeezed through by two points I thought we were probably seven or eight points a better team on the day and we just couldn't show it on the scoreboard.

"It's a mark of progress and great for Carlow. Between Mount Leinster Rangers and ourselves the last couple of years we've made strides in Leinster and it's brilliant for the county as a whole," said Kavanagh.

With almost two decades of Senior Club Hurling under his belt, many felt that the win over Ferns was Jack's best ever performance in a St Mullins shirt. So what did the man himself think?

"I don't know if it was my best game ever, but I suppose I hurled pretty well," he said modestly.

"I had a nice role sweeping and picked up a lot of loose ball. Some days the ball falls for you and other days it doesn't and the last day it did but it was a great team performance.

"It's all about consistency now and hopefully we can turn in another good performance this week."

In reaching the 2019 Leinster Final, St Mullins dispatched Cuala who had won All Ireland Senior titles in 2017 and 2018. However, Jack feels that Crokes will be a different proposition but admits that the win over Cuala that day can be a positive to draw on.

"Kilmacud will be a different threat to Cuala. We probably will draw confidence from it knowing that we can turn over these so called bigger teams because we have in the past.

"I expect it to be a cracker of a game in a big wide open pitch in Croke Park between two very good hurling teams.

"I don't think there will be much in it. There's legs in both forward lines and I'm expecting a hum dinger and hopefully St Mullins come out the right side of it."

While the buzz and excitement is definitely at fever pitch for supporters, Kavanagh reinforced that his teammates are focused on the task at hand.

"It's great for the parish and community as a whole. We're at the forefront of it but we have to stay grounded.

"Our big ambition is to get back up there for a Leinster Final.

Kavanagh finished by paying tribute to all the St Mullins followers.

"It's great to give joy to our supporters, kids and everyone in the parish."

"It means so much to us all. The parish as a whole is on cloud nine and hopefully it will stay like that for another while."

St Mullins v Kilmacud Crokes throws in at 3.15pm on Sunday at Croke Park and is live on TG4 and also on KCLR Radio.