Cartons keep up family tradition
Michael and Peadar primed to take on Dubs under gaze of hurling legend father
THE Carton name: known and admired in every parish in the country.
Peadar Carton senior was a good one alright -- a Dublin hurler of some substance.
He's still very much remembered and respected throughout Ireland for his exploits in the Dublin and Leinster jersey.
"Anywhere I go, everyone knows him. He was a great hurler," muses his son, Dublin senior hurler Michael.
"My ambition is to be someday as good as he was. I am constantly aiming for that.
"He's our (Michael and his younger brother Peadar) biggest supporter. We'd have good chats after all the matches.
"He's excellent at picking out little points -- what went right and what didn't. No better man.
"It's great to get the benefit of that kind of knowledge. And he never misses a game."
Peadar senior will be in Russell Park tomorrow night to watch his sons, Michael and young Peadar, play for St Declan's College in their golden jubilee match against Anthony Daly's Dublin (throw-in 7.0).
"I'm looking forward to it," states Michael. "It will be nice to play with a few of the lads I went to school with."
Dublin won't lack sharpness. They are back in the groove at O'Toole Park, training four times a week.
"It's tough going, but I'm enjoying it. It should be a good year ahead.
"We made progress last season, but we weren't happy with the way it finished. Losing to Limerick was a bit of a downer.
"Hopefully, this time we can go one step better. We are back at it full swing now, and I feel hurling in Dublin is definitely on the up."
The echo of that can be felt in the club scene. "Club hurling is at a higher standard than it has been in the past couple of years. It's much more intense now," stresses Michael.
"Ballyboden are on top. They have such a strong squad compared to some of the clubs around Dublin.
"They are a fabulous side. They are the Kilkenny of Dublin club hurling.
"It's up to the rest of us to try and catch them, and that challenge can only be good for the game."
Michael's club, O'Toole's, almost caught them in the semi-final of the 2009 Evening Herald Dubin Senior 'A' Championship in Parnell Park.
The Larriers gave the Boden boys a rattle on that Sunday afternoon. Michael's elegant point from 80 metres in injury-time ensured the Ayrfield side a replay after goalkeeper Brendan McLoughlin had just sent a thunderbolt to the roof of Gary Maguire's net from a 20-metre free.
"We gave them a very good match the first day. The hurling was first class. It was enjoyable to play in. The second day they just got out of the blocks that bit faster than us. It's something we'll have to work on this year."
O'Toole's have long been among Dublin hurling's aristocrats. So many distinguished names wore and continue to wear their colours.
"I won the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship with them back in 2002. But that's eight years ago now. Hopefully I'll get another one soon," remarks Michael.
That year O'Toole's beat their fond foes, Craobh Chiaráin, in the final following a replay. There were three points in it.
A very young Michael Carton, who had just finished his Leaving Cert the same summer, got two of those precious points. Brendan McLoughlin, playing at midfield, hit 1-2 while current O'Toole's senior hurling boss, Damien Hernon, played at full-forward.
As he continues to chase gold on the double with O'Toole's and the Dubs, Michael will continue to strive for the Q mark the da attained.
And if he keeps getting the thumbs-up from one of the craft's most esteemed professors, he'll know for sure that he's on the right road.
p ST DECLAN'S COLLEGE GOLDEN JUBILEE DUBLIN GAA NIGHT, TOMORROW
Venue: St Brigid's GAA club, Russell Pk, Navan Rd.
Hurling: Dublin v St Declan's All-Stars, 7.0. Football: Dublin v St Declan's All-Stars, 8.30.
Admission: €5. (Ring 8380357 form details).