Paul intends to cashin on belief
AS you listen to Paul Cashin talking ahead of Carlow's Leinster SFC semi-final clash with Wexford, it is impossible to ignore an obvious theme. Belief.
For a player who has experienced more bad days than good since his championship debut in 2004, belief can be a powerful tool.
He uses a Kerry great as his reference. "I would fully agree with what Pat Spillane said a few weeks ago. There are 15 footballers in every county that can compete with every other.
"The talk before the last round was who Louth would be playing in the semi. We weren't even mentioned. But we got on with our training and were confident of causing an upset and that's what we did."
Since the breakthrough of the great Eire Óg club, winners of five Leinster titles in the nineties, as well as Carlow town rivals O'Hanrahan's who also captured that crown in 2000, people from outside the county often wondered aloud why that success was never transferred to intercounty level.
Eire Óg clubman and Carlow wing-back Cashin struggles to pin it down to any one specific factor.
"Going out with the club, in Leinster championship, or playing challenge games against clubs from anywhere, we always feel like we can win," he muses.
"No offence to any other panel I've been involved with, but this is the first time I can honestly say there is a feeling like that playing with Carlow.
"To be brutally honest, and I am not saying that there was ever bad lads playing for Carlow, but I don't think before there was ever 26 lads as good as what we have now and who actually wanted to play for Carlow."
Much of the credit must be attributed to manager Luke Dempsey, a man with a proven track record, and someone who is very much up to speed with the requirement's for success at county level.
Cashin has played under a succession of managers including big names such as former Dublin midfielder Paul Bealin and ex-Meath centrefielder Liam Hayes, but the flying half-back is glowing in his praise of Dempsey, the former Westmeath and Longford supremo. "Luke has been here three years and it has taken him that time to get the right blend. Thankfully he was allowed that time as now we have a good mix of youth and experience.
"To be fair, he is a very good manager. He knows his stuff and he has a very good backroom team in place. Wayne Middleton is the physical trainer and he keeps things fresh and we enjoy coming to training. That makes a big difference."
The recent championship quarter-final victory over Louth no doubt surprised most but the talk since that thrilling 0-14 to 0-13 victory has been chiefly centred on Carlow's talismanic midfield star and former Sydney Swans man Brendan Murphy. But does it sit well with the other squad members when they hear accusations about them being a one-man force?
"I couldn't disagree more. Brendan is an outstanding player. He is one of the best in the country there is no doubt about that. But we went through the entire league without him (denied promotion with a final round defeat to Longford).
"We are able to compete in every position. Lads like Darragh Foley, Thomas Walsh and Daniel St Ledger probably don't get the credit they deserve. We are by no means a one man team."
For one of the so-called weaker counties, days in Croke Park are rare. Their last outing at headquarters in 2008 is not one that holds fond memories for 'Tailor'.
He captained Carlow when they froze like the proverbial 'rabbits in a headlamp' and were subject to a 20-point annihilation by Meath.
"That won't be playing on my mind and anyone else involved that day needs to put it behind them.
"The last time we played in Croke Park was a disaster. We weren't prepared at all. We went on to the field that day without the belief that we could win.
"But six or seven of this team were on the successful minor team in 2007 and they will have no fears about playing in Croke Park. We won't be overwhelmed."
His positive attitude again shines through with some tongue in cheek advice to anyone who fancies a flutter.
"They (Wexford) have played some of the best football of the championship so far and they have forwards who can hurt anyone," he says in a display of respect.
"Some of the bookies have them at 1/10 favourites. People are welcome to put their money on that but they might be upset come Sunday evening!"