James Hickey has acknowledged the vital role Kilkenny has played in the rise of Carlow hurling.
Mount Leinster Rangers reached the All-Ireland club SHC final in 2013, something Hickey believes wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been exposed to playing against Kilkenny opposition on a regular basis.
Speaking on the RTÉ GAA podcast after the Rangers defeated Camross in yesterday's Leinster club SHC quarter-final, the county star praised the Cats for accommodating Carlow clubs and improving their hurling standards.
"I'd love to see more Kilkenny men involved at national level and having a bigger say. Kilkenny approached us in 2001 to go in and hurl in a junior league. And we took it in open arms," he said.
"They invited us in. We went in and studied their ways. You play every match and it's like a championship match. After the match, there's tea and sandwiches. Ned Quinn was the chairman down there. They've huge respect for Carlow and what we're trying to do.
"They took us under their wing and brought us in there. I said it on air when we won the Leinster final in Nowlan Park that what they (Kilkenny) had done for the lower tier which has been huge."