Siblings in sport are not a new phenomenon. Famous sporting brothers and sisters that spring to mind include Gary and Phil Neville, Venus and Serena Williams, Michael and Ralf Schumacher, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Eli and Peyton Manning.
In GAA it is very common to find brothers and sisters plying their trade together in pitches across the length and breadth of the country. It even happens at intercounty level. Down the road in Kilkenny Tommy, Padraic and Grace Walsh are household hurling and camggie names. Dublin has the Brogans; Alan and Bernard.
Carlow is no different. In fact, there are an above average number of brothers and sisters representing their county.
This Sunday, May 3rd sees the Carlow senior camogie team contest the Irish Daily Star National League Division 3 final against a Dublin side that defeated them earlier in the competition. This game is set as the double-header to the Leinster Hurling Championship Round Robin clash between Carlow and Westmeath in Cusack Park, Mullingar.
For five households, Sunday morning promises to be particularly tense given the magnitude of both games up for decision. The parents of John Michael, Kate and Breege Nolan; Eddie, Diarmuid and Eimear Byrne; Áine and James Kinsella; David and Gillian English and Mark and Emma Brennan will have their work cut out ensuring that all involved remain calm and relaxed.
For Mark it promises to be even more hectic as he is not only a member of the hurling squad but also manager of the camggie team.
What had initially looked like a scheduling nightmare, turned into the perfect double header last week thanks to tremendous work by both county boards together with the Camogie Association and Leinster GAA.
The talk at home for all five families will be of little else, over the coming days, other than what the weekend might have in store, the training schedule of all involved for the week, the organisation of shorts, skorts and hurls, pre match meals, travel arrangements and possible team selection.
Having a brother or sister involved on a county team can be a blessing and a curse. Being able to turn to them for advice, support and encouragement over the course of a long season helps keep you going. Other times the arguments over who gets to wear the good pair of socks, the rollercoaster of emotions depending on results, the amount of dirty gear and the first person into the shower after training on a dark, wet night can stretch a family to breaking point.
Knowing when to voice an opinion and when to say nothing at all can be a skill more tricky to develop than any encountered on the hurling field. Here’s hoping that come Sunday evening all five sets of siblings will be heading home, clapping each other on the back after a fantastic afternoon’s work, discussing plans for the Bank holiday festivities.
*Copy c/o Carlow Camogie Board
Back Row Kate Nolan, Breege Nolan, Gillian English, Aine Kinsella and Eimear Byrne
Front Row John Michael Nolan, David English, James Kinsella, Edward and Diarmuid Byrne