Kenny Carroll feature
Kenny Carroll is Railway's first dual international since Joey in the 1960s
by Rupert Heather
FEW GENUINE sports people are interested in accolades but in becoming Railways Union's first dual International since Joey O'Meara in the 1960s, Kenny Carroll has earned them. Committed, dedicated and driven are some of the characteristics those who know him recognise. In Irish terms his career and accomplishments are almost unique.
His Irish cricket debut came in 2006 against Italy in Glasgow. On Sunday 17th April 2011 he made his International hockey debut in a friendly against Canada at UCD. Not only that, he played both Gaelic football and hurling for Oatlands College, Mount Merrion and was soccer goal-keeper for Mount Merrion Youths FC.
Under coach Adi Birrell, possibly his single biggest influence, Kenny was part of Ireland's 2007 Cricket World Cup success. Having amassed 190 senior appearances for Railways Union 1st XI, including 4611 runs, 161 wickets and 63 catches he is regarded as one of the most consistent all-round performers in Leinster Division 1.
In hockey terms though, it could have been so different. At five years of age Kenny had gone along with his older brother Gareth who was trying out this 'new' sport along with other young hopefuls. Brendan Smyth saw his enthusiasm, and instead of asking him to 'come back when you're older,' registered him in the colts section. Smyth was at Belfield 23 years later to see Kenny make his Ireland debut.
Returning to cricket, friend and sometime adversary Emmett Whaley says," I've known Kenny since the summer of 1994. Those Railway schoolboy sides were full of good players and big characters (O'Mearas, O'Briens, Wynnes, Roger Whelan, Conor Mullen and Fossie) but he was very quiet as a youngster and still is. He was a player who just got on with playing the game."
With a work ethic that is unrivalled, his professionalism and dedication are the key components of a sportsman who is always trying to get the best out of himself, characteristics that convert neatly into his flourishing coaching career. He has recently taken up position of Cricket in the Community coach with South Dublin County Council.
His inclusion in the World Cup squad was on the back of an incredible season in 2006 where he scored 800+ runs, got his chance with Ireland and took it by getting 90 at Lords.
"It's not surprising that when he turned his attention and focus to playing hockey he made the Irish squad. He makes sacrifices and just trains harder than anyone else," Whaley adds. "You really have to admire his achievements, he got the rewards because he earned them it's a simple as that,' he concludes.
Kenny became the first player from Railway Union to represent Ireland at men's hockey since the legendary Joey O'Meara, who also represented Ireland at cricket. The last player to represent Ireland at both sports was Jimmy Kirkwood in 1983, the year Kenny was born. Both men became absolute heroes and role models in his formative years. Coached and encouraged by O'Meara he played against Kirkwood and Lisnagarvey in the Irish Junior Hockey Cup. Also worthy of mention are Ian O'Keeffe who got his hockey 'going,' mentor Brian O'Rourke and Rangan Arulchelvan, supporter and sponsor of Railway Union Cricket.
Aside from his achievements, the origin of Kenny's sporting persona is perhaps less obvious. Asked where he may have been imbued with such qualities, his father David says, "Not from me anyway, his mother, Pauline, is a first cousin of John O'Shea, founder and CEO of the third world agency GOAL, who is an all-round sportsman, especially at top-class tennis, and was a senior sports journalist in his earlier days".
With the Neville Cup, Railway Union's first senior men's hockey trophy in three decades and the Leinster Cricket Division 1 League under his belt from last season, clearly there is still more to come. At the age of 28, who knows what the future holds. One thing is certain, there are still many chapters to be written in the story.