Chris Nolan can’t wait for the 2022 hurling season to kick into full swing.
The Carlow star led his club side Mount Leinster Rangers to yet another county title as they defeated old rivals St. Mullins in the decider.
That was the highlight of 2021 from a collective perspective for Nolan as impressive individual performances from the classy forward were not enough to propel Carlow to promotion from Division 2 of the league or replicate past success in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
A busy season all starts again later this month when Tom Mullally’s Carlow outfit meet Kildare in the opening round of the Kehoe Cup.
Speaking to KCLR’s Scoreline ahead of that game, Nolan revealed that there have been specific aims set out by the entire set-up while also batting away suggestions that there is additional pressure to succeed in Tom Mullally’s second year at the helm.
He said: “I don’t think there is pressure on the management or us as players.
“We enjoy training and playing. If we can bond together and click on the pitch that will take us very far. We have a number of targets that we have set as a group, and we know what we want to achieve and there’s no reason why we can’t do everything we want to do.”
Included in both the 2020 and 2021 Joe McDonagh Team of the Year, Nolan admits that everyone is looking forward to pulling on the Carlow jersey once more.
“It’s been two months since I last played.
“We’re all looking forward to the games coming up because when it comes to the end of one year and the start of another there seems to be a lot of gaps in the calendar. We just want to have as good a year as possible and if we work hard, we know that we can get the results,” he said.
Nolan was part of the Mount Leinster Rangers team that successfully navigated their way through the Carlow Senior Hurling Championship before dispatching of St. Mullins in the final.
Despite county medals becoming commonplace for him, Mount Leinster Rangers’ talisman explained that winning with the club remains unmatched.
“It’s so special every year.
“There is a great community spirit around the place. The supporters were amazing because they weren’t there last year when we won it. But anytime you win a county final it’s a great feeling and we’d love to be able to do it again later this year.”
Their club season eventually came to an end with a defeat at the hands of All-Ireland champions Ballyhale Shamrocks in the Leinster quarter-final.
Although most onlookers considered them to be underdogs in that game, Nolan told Scoreline that there was an expectation amongst the panel to put in a winning performance against the all-conquering Kilkenny side.
“We believed that we could win the Leinster championship, so it was hugely disappointing to lose to them because even though a lot of people didn’t give us a chance, we knew that we could win that game.
“We missed some big chances in the second half and didn’t start fast enough and that ultimately cost us. But overall, it was a successful year because we won the county championship which was our main goal at the start of the year.”