Brian Carroll lives and breathes hurling. The 39-year-old scored 1-23 for Coolderry in the Offaly senior championship this year in four games. When Coolderry didn't reach the knockout stages of the Offaly SHC this autumn, it meant Brian would have more time to focus on another passion of his: coaching hurling.
On Sunday, a Lorrha side featuring the likes of Bonner Maher and Brian Hogan won their first title since 2007, beating Moneygall on a scoreline of 4-15 to 3-12. The Tipp hurling championship is brimming with quality, and a year after being relegated, Lorrha are back amongst the big hitters in the Premier county.
— Tipperary GAA (@TipperaryGAA) October 30, 2022
Carroll played a big role in Lorrha's win, as he joined the club as a coach in 2022. Interestingly, the invitation came from a man whom Carroll would be very familiar with from the Offaly championship.
Late last year, Lorrha appointed club and Tipperary legend Ken Hogan as manager. Hogan, of course, played goalkeeper for the Premier County between 1987 and 1993 winning two All-Ireland medals. This is Ken's first season managing Lorrha after leading Offaly club St Rynaghs to a three-in-a-row.
Coincidentally, St Rynaghs met Brian's Coolderry in the final last year. After the final, Ken rang Brian asking to meet up. Brian admits that he naively thought that the Tipperary legend just wanted to chat.
So he was on the opposite side of the field to me last year, and they were just after beating me and he rang me a couple of days after and I said, "oh he's just ringing to say hello because I barely got to meet him after the match. He just met me for coffee and I was so naive, it never dawned on me that he might have been asking me to go help him with Lorrha.
The former Offaly hurler revealed that Ken actually asked him to manage the north Tipp side first. However, since Brian is still hurling with Coolderry he declined, simply because he wouldn't have the time. Ken then asked if he would coach the side to which Brian responded that he'll think about it and the rest is history.
Brian has actually worked with Ken before. The former goalkeeper managed Brian and Coolderry to the All Ireland club final in 2012. There was also another offer on the table for the 39-year-old as Liam England asked him to help with his new club Roscrea. However, Brian decided to work with his former manager stating he couldn't turn it down.
I suppose it was the fact that it was Ken and what learning I could do from working with Ken, I just couldn't turn down that opportunity. At some stage I'd like to manage or coach at a high level. Even though I worked under Ken as a player, I suppose this is an opportunity to go in and learn from him and really take on board how he does it.
This is Brian's second year coaching at club level in Tipp. Last year, he was involved with Moyne-Templetuohy who won the intermediate title that year, so he has had a successful start to his coaching career. Lorrha's coach states hard work and lack of egos is instrumental to success.
I don't claim to have any kind of magic formula but I do know that it starts and ends with hard work. There's no secret to it, lack of egos, huge humility needed across the board, whether that's the club officers, the management, the players, you need everyone pulling the one way and when you have that, it makes it very enjoyable.
For Brian, who has tasted county success with his club Coolderry, winning the senior final 5 times, says that there is a lot less pressure as a coach on final day as a blow-in
I suppose from a player's perspective, I would have felt a bit more pressure in the need to win. It was almost as if you could feel the pressure of representing your parish and the people around you when you're playing and I suppose you feed off the crowd as well. I haven't seem to have felt that pressure when I've been involved in Lorrha this year. Maybe that's because I'm coming from outside the club and I don't feel that pressure from the supporters of the parish but look it's very enjoyable.
Coaching is one of the many aspects of Brian's busy life. He hosts the Hurler's Life podcast, does commentary for RTÉ occasionally, and plays with his club Coolderry. The 39-year-old feels that it's simply figuring out what works best to be able to still play hurling.
I think it actually complements my hurling because it's a breath of fresh air going into other clubs and doing that bit of coaching. I'm probably seeing things from another perspective in terms of my hurling. Since I got involved with coaching at a much higher level, it's figuring out what works best, you throw in commentating with RTÉ and a couple of podcasts, I'm certainly a busy man but at the same time I won't be doing this unless I really enjoy it, but I suppose going forward, hurling and I can't stay home forever.
He also gives huge acknowledgement to his wife as without her, he would not be able to do many of the things he loves.
Puts Things Into Perspective
The GAA community was rocked by the death of young hurler Dillon Quirke this year. Brian feels that the tragedy puts things into perspective that we take it a bit too serious at times.
I think Jurgen Klopp said it best, it's the most important of non-important things. I think we must keep that in perspective, we all get annoyed when we lose and we get annoyed over decisions and silly stuff but by the end of the day it's a hobby, a sport.
It makes you appreciate whether it's the sport itself or the or our life more importantly. It delayed the club scene here in Tipperary but no one was a bit concerned about that.
Successful Start To Second Chapter
After winning 5 senior county titles and a Leinster title with Coolderry, Brian has started the second chapter of his hurling career in the same fashion.