Celebrity Cover: Hurling Legend Nicky English talks to Cover Point, Feb 2010

by coverpoint

They say that Eoin Morgan's array of batting skills is partly attributable to the hurling skills he developed as a youngster. Nicky English is a legend of the sport of hurling, the equivalent of George Best in soccer if you will. Here he talks to Cover Point.

: Cullen, West Tipperary, 1962

Education:  Abbey Christian Brothers School in Tipperary town. Bachelor of Arts and Higher Diploma at University College Cork

Occupation: Marketing and Sales Manager with Allied Irish Bank Investment Managers. GAA analyst for TV3 and Irish Times. Former Tipperary hurler and manager - winning All-Ireland medals in both roles

Family: Married with a young family

Home: Dublin

Biggest Influence: My father was a huge fan of local and inter-county hurling and my biggest influence

Sports Career:



Both with Club and County, English's position was full-forward.

At Club level, with Lattin-Cullen, English won an intermediate football title in 1989, a junior hurling title in 1992 and an intermediate hurling title in 1996.

At inter-county level, with Tipperary, English won a minor All-Ireland medal in 1980 and an under-21 All-Ireland  medal in 1981. English joined the senior hurling team in 1982 when Tipperary hurling was in the doldrums. He won the first of five senior Munster titles in 1987. The other Munster titles were won in '88, 89 (making it three-in-a-row), '91 and '93. In 1988 he won a National Hurling League title and two All-Ireland senior titles in 1989 and in 1991. He also won six All-Star awards. English retired from inter-county hurling in 1996, after 14 years on the senior panel.

In 1999 English took over as manager of the Tipperary senior hurling team. Tipp hurling was again in the doldrums and many thought on a downward spiral. English embarked on a rebuilding program. In 2001 Tipp won the National Hurling League for the first time since 1994. In the same year he guided them to their first Munster title since 1993 and also to a 25th All-Ireland title with a win over Galway. English resigned as manager in 2002 due to the logistical issues and living and working in Dublin and managing in Tipperary.


What might surprise you: I never played under age hurling for my Club, Lattin Cullen. I was 14 before I played a competitive hurling match

What won't surprise you: I could have played any sport. I had an eye for the ball and was lucky enough to have pace

Why hurling? When I was growing up in Tipperary in the 1970s and '80s Ireland was a much bigger place than it is today. To go to England was a big thing. If you wanted to be well known and a big name in the county then hurling was the thing to do

Heroes: I guess growing up Jimmy Barry-Murphy was a big hero. Also Ray Cummins and Mick Roche. The Kerry-Dublin football finals would have made a big impression on me - the likes of 'Bomber' Liston, and Oggie Moran from Kerry and Jimmy Keveany from Dublin were influences

Highlight of Career: Was the day we beat Cork in the final in Killarney to win the Munster title in 1987. We beat Cork after a replay. The first match in Thurles was a draw and the replay went to extra time. It was a watershed for Tipperary hurling. It was our first competitive victory since 1983

What do you miss most: The camaraderie of the dressing room

Secret of success as a player: Practice. I was lucky enough to be fast and I practiced constantly

Secret of success as a manager: Setting the bar high. With players I looked for good leaders, intelligent players who prepared well

Regrets: none really. I played at the top level from 1981 to Sept '96 - I've enjoyed my career    

On inter-county GAA: I'd like to see Dublin win the All-Ireland football and become a force in hurling. A good Dublin team brings a lot to the GAA 

On GAA football: it has got a bit physical but when you see the likes of Colm Cooper there are still great players around

On the GAA generally: The international aspect is where the GAA comes up short in comparison with other sports

On expanding hurling: It is difficult. There is a lot of specialist coaching - a lot of time involved. To be honest, just keeping it going in the traditional areas is a challenge in itself. The computer games that young people are into these days is a challenge. Also young people these days seem to play everything but don't become a master at anything and then often just give it all up 

On the financial rewards the likes of Harrington, O'Driscoll enjoy:  It is true that you are a little jealous of what these guys earn but being a professional brings its own set of issues and problems. A lot of these guys have a problem adjusting to life when their playing career finishes. As an amateur sportsman you can experience the highs on the pitch but still maintain an equilibrium. When you know you have to go back to work on Monday or Tuesday it keeps you well grounded!

Other sports: I play golf - playing off a handicap of 12 these days. I watch any sport on tv - I go to GAA, rugby, soccer matches     

Young Hurlers to watch out for:  from Kilkenny, Tommy Walsh, from Galway, Joe Canning is a great young player. From Tipp, Conor O'Mahony and Shane McGrath are great talents. Noel McGrath is much younger than the others but he's a special talent.  

Fan of: Leeds - showing my age! Not many of us under 40! It would have come from that side of the early '70s. I would have been a fan of Allan Clarke   



I played a charity game at Clontarf. I hit Tom McGurk onto the roof of the pavilion there. Mind you, to be fair, Tom wouldn't be the quickest bowler. They had a South African bowler playing and there was a bit of a difference between them!

It's not as easy as it looks from first impressions, that's for sure. I'd watch the one day stuff, the World Cup was great.

It's a tough job to expand the game in Ireland. I know from hurling how difficult it is to take the game beyond the established pockets where it is played - and in hurling we would have huge numbers playing and huge financial resources compared to cricket. So it's a big challenge for the cricket people. While the World Cup gave the game a big boost the impact doesn't last too long.

My favourite cricketer? Not sure I'd have one as such. I guess Shane Warne.

Nicky English in conversation with Liam Rooney

Copyright: Cover Point





3/13/2010 11:29:36 PM #

Legend is nicky in Tipperary. Great to see he has some positive
comments on cricket aswell.

Fintan Moore Ireland

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