Hickey was lucky enough to enjoy many memorable days during his
hurling career with Carlow but everything paled into insignificance
compared to Mount Leinster Rangers All-Ireland Club IHC
success in 2012.
The 31 year old bowed out on a high following the Kilkenny border
clubs 1-13 to 1-11 over Middletown Na Fianna of Armagh at
Croke Park in February of last year.
Mount Leinster Rangers - 2011 All-Ireland Club IHC champions
lined out at right half-back as the Carlow and Leinster champions
came from five points down to pip their Orchard County opponents
at the final whistle.
It was an absolutely unbelievable achievement, you dont
even dream about winning All-Irelands growing up and playing with
a Carlow club, James recalled.
It was the greatest day of my life to get to play in Croke
Park with friends and school pals from Mount Leinster Rangers.
James in action in the All-Irleand Club IHC final
All-Ireland victory was the culmination of a remarkable turnaround
in fortunes for Mount Leinster Rangers. Founded in 1988, James
recalled how the club was once on the verge of extinction.
At one stage the club looked like it might not survive but,
after taking a lot of heavy beatings, we made the breakthrough
15 years ago the club seemed to be going no where fast but
turned it around with success at minor and Under 21 level and
that came from the hard work and dedication of the likes of Eddie
and Mag Byrne (secretary) who leave no stone unturned.
James celebrates with his son Conor
right people came in and took over the reins and it was a special
occasion. Tommy Mullally, brother of Richie and Paddy from Kilkenny,
has been with us since 06 and he is an inspirational figure
in the club. He is way ahead of his time in terms of coaching.
Then theres the underage coaches who often dont
get the credit they deserve. They ensure the talent conveyor belt
is kept running smoothly and their efforts are greatly appreciated.
Eight months after savouring his sweetest victory on the hurling
field, James had a bigger match when he married his wife Amy last
October. The couple have a son Conor and live in Gowran in nearby
Kilkenny, home of DJ Carey, Charlie Carter and Pat ONeill.
and Conor on county final day 2011 versus Myshall
of Carlows most decorated hurlers of recent times, his medal
collection boasts All-Ireland Club IHC, Leinster Club IHC, 5 Carlow
SHC and 4 Kilkenny league souvenirs with the club plus 2 Christy
Ring Cup medals with the Barrowsiders.
2009 was a blue riband year for the affable Hickey as he captained
his club to county honours as well as winning a second successive
Christy Ring Cup medal.
Individual awards also came his way in the form of selection of
the Christy Ring All Star selection and Carlows Hurler
of the Year accolade.
James with his Best men and grooms men on his wedding day, also
his team mates
from left to right. Willie Hickey, Myself, Denis Murphy, John
Coady & Stephen Byrne
inherited his passion for the small ball code from his father
Pat who donned the county jersey with distinction while his brothers
Andy and Willie have also made valuable contributions to the Mount
Leinster Rangers success story.
His extended family are also vital cogs in the club machine. The
four Coady brothers are first cousins as are Denis Murphy and
David Greenan. Denis Murphys father Michael was the county
teams top scorer for many years back in the day.
James with his wife Amy on their wedding day
regards, the current Carlow team and their chances of being competitive
in the Allianz HL Division 1B, James who is employed by
generous Mount Leinster Rangers supporters Keenans of Borris
- is optimistic despite the narrow opening round defeat at the
hands of Wexford.
Kevin Ryan is gone as manager and John Meyler has come in
to replace him. Kevin, along with Gerry Fitzpatrick, brought the
county on to the next level. We beat Wexford in 2010 in the league
for the first time ever and lost by a point to Clare the following
week. We were knocking on the door.
Maintaining their Division 1B status should be the main
priority and I have no doubt that, if Carlow show up on the day,
they are capable of winning games and holding their place.
Its a tough group but its where you want to
be, in the top 12 of the elite in the country. We were ranked
25th for long enough.