03 September 1993
Nowadays Secretary Ted Carroll is the Busiest man in Kilkenny
During the course of a long and accomplished inter-county hurling career Kilkenny centre half / corner back Ted Carroll was the worthy recipient of medals galore, picking up three All-Irelands, six Leinster Championships, three Oireachtas medals and a National League title. Add to that two Leinster Minor Championships and a Railway Cup winners medal and the sum makes for a pretty impressive collection. One of Kilkennys hurling stalwarts in the sixties, the Lisdowney mans flourishing Senior inter-county career spanned from 1961-1971. And the present day secretary of the Kilkenny County Board is confident that The Cats can continue on this year where they left off last time round by doing the business again on Sunday: "I think they are well capable of winning. But you have to get a few breaks during any game and be good enough to put your chances away," he says just days prior to the most important date on the annual hurling calendar.
The finest moment of the former Lisdowney centre halfs own sparkling career presented itself on September 1st 1963 - that was the year Ted won his first All-Ireland medal, wearing no. 6 as Kilkenny pipped Waterford on an incredible scoreline of 4-17 to 6-8. "Its everybodys dream to reach that goal. After that the rest are a bonus. Some tend to be sweeter than others but the first is usually the best one," he offers. Carroll returned to Croke Park for further All-Ireland honours in 1967 and 1969. In the 67 decider Tipp were overturned by a four point margin and Cork were toppled by six points two years later. In all three finals currents Kilkenny mentor Ollie Walsh was between the posts for the Noresiders. "Ollie was tremendous keeper", reflects the agricultural advisor with An Teagascs Kilkenny branch. "His big asset was that once he got possession he had a great sidestep and swerve. In those days goalies didnt get the same protection they get these days - they have it much easier now ".For the 67 and 69 finals Carroll had retreated diagonally across the backline to take up his more familiar role at right corner back" started off at centre back and played there from 1961-1966 and went to the corner then. I would have preferred playing in the corner", he explains.
Although he resides in Kilkenny city at present his heart is still in Lisdowney. Playing Senior with the club from he was fifteen years old Ted continued to hurl up until the mid-seventies, at which stage he had gone past his fortieth year. In contrast to the harvest he reaped at inter-county level, honours won at club level were decidedly modest. The club went from Junior to Senior . and back again! They went close to taking the Championship in 1962, losing out in the final. Ted was a then student at UCD when he won a Junior Championship with the club in 1960 and was subsequently called for the county team the following year, making his debut in the Leinster Championship defeat at the hands of Wexford. His twin brother Mick also togged out for Kilkenny that day. Ted made his final appearance for the county ten years later when he was introduced as a sub during the 1971 final - losing out to a team from the Premier County which included such household names as current day managers Babs Keating and Len Gaynor. Now, there arent too many footballers on the banks of the Nore, but the first Championship medal Ted Carrol ever won was a Football Championship one! That was in 1955 with Galmoy (an amalgamation of teams from Johnstown, Galmoy and Lisdowney). Indeed, Lisdowney are still going through a spell in the lower regions - they lost in the Junior final last year - but their Minors are hurling quite well. They triumphed in the Minor Championship two years ago and took the Minor League last year, so the clubs fortunes could be set to change pretty soon.
These days Ted is a happily married family man. He is wed to Angela and has four sons and one daughter - namely Pat, Donal, Ted, David and Helen. All the sons are hurling for Dicksboro and they are getting plenty of encouragement from their Dad. "Its not easy for former players sons as there is more pressure on them", he remarks. The County Board secretary has been impressed with Senior teams progress to this years decider: "Theyve been playing very well. Up till now their backs have been very sound and the forwards are playing a more open brand of hurling than last year. They seem to be moving the ball around a bit better too. The performance of the backs as a unit is going to be crucial against Galway. Pat Dwyer would have been a hell of a loss if he hadnt been playing. Hes the best full back in the country at the moment. Well need him more than ever against Galway, who have very good forwards - itd be nice to put two back to back."
Carroll analyses the performances of The Cats on the road to the 1993 All-Ireland hurling final: "The first game against Offaly was a tough one. They were in with a chance for most of the match. It was nice to get that one out of the way. We won easily against Carlow. They kept with us for a while but I think it was inevitable that wed wear them down eventually." And Wexford? "Our backs were exceptional the first day. If they hadnt been dominant we were in trouble. They soaked up a lot of pressure. We were lucky enough to get a draw but we showed tremendous character and didnt panic." He concedes that Kilkenny were in trouble for the first half against Antrim in the semi-final, stating that the forwards didnt play and in not doing so let the Saffrons dominate at the back. "Antrim didnt capitalise on their chances in the first half. After the break I always though we had that bit in reserve," he says.
A frequent choice in the Leinster Railway Cup panel. Ted rates Kilkennys opposition very highly and believes that Galway could give the Kilkenny backline a lot to think about. "They looked like a good team against Tipperary although you have to admit that the soft goal they got certainly had a bearing on the outcome of the game. Even though Galway were territorily on top up until then they werent converting their scores. They have a few very good players in the half back line and Cooney, Rabbitte, and McGrath did a lot of damage against Tipp. Their forwards are certainly going to have to be closed down." With both defences being so strong Ted envisages a very tight encounter with a restricted amount of open play as both teams confine each other to very little free space. "I wouldnt expect too much open, free-flowing hurling". He warns, adding: "If its a calm day the game will be very fast and it should be a good spectacle but if its windy its going to be very tight with puck-outs landing in and around the forty metre mark."
As secretary of the County Board Carrol keeps tabs on the performances of all teams Minors, U-21s and Seniors alike, and there are three very evenly balanced finals against the western Tribesmen on horizon. "Its a very big coincidence that were playing Galway in all three finals," he points out before suggesting that the Cats will have their work cut out in the Minor final. "Galways Minors are coming very good," he assesses. "They were very impressive against Tipp in the semi-final." However, in corner forward Ollie OConnor Kilkenny would seem to have a potential match-winner. The St. Lachtains youngster grabbed 2-7 in the Leinster final and a further 2-10 in the All-Ireland semi. Ted feels that the U-21 final could be anybodys. "Our lads played very well against Wexford and they put in a very good display against Derry in the semi-final - but the opposition in the final will be much more difficult than anybody weve met so far."
Carroll believes that the Kilkenny versus Galway line-up which has been resolved for all three of this years finals could indicate that the two counties are set to dominate the hurling stakes in future seasons. "In the last few years Galway have had great success in underage hurling. And we won the All-Ireland Minor title in 1990 and again in 1991 before being beaten by Galway in a replay in last years semi-final. If the players concerned mature well then they should be a force to be reckoned with." Before taking up his current post Ted Carrol worked as a teacher in Kilkenny during the early sixties. He has been working with An Teagasc since 1963. Based in Rathconnell in 1966 and in Louth for the following two years, the agricultural advisor is much closer to home these days working in Kilkenny city. He has been secretary of the county board on Noreside since 1984. "The position involves a lot of administrative work, arranging club fixtures and setting up committees. Im especially busy if the team is successful in the Championship," he explains. In that case 1993 has certainly been a hectic year for the Lisdowney man!
Written by Hogan Stand Magazine