Editor’s note: John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts after hurling championship games. We met with John this week and put him under the spotlight!
1. Who was your GAA hero growing up?
My favourite hurler when growing up would have to be Ciaran Carey of Limerick. For a period of time back in the 90’s for three or four years he was possibly the best hurler in the country. He held the pivotal position of centre back and was very unlucky to miss out on an All Ireland medal with Limerick back in the 90’s. Outstanding hurler and he typified everything that was good about that Limerick team during that period.
2. Can you remember the first inter-county game you attended?
I went with my family to the Munster Final back in 1989. Waterford were playing Tipperary that day. It was the first time Waterford got into in a Munster Final in a few years. Unfortunately, we lost. From what I remember the stand out performance on that day was Nicky English. He was simply outstanding.
3. Tell us about your senior debut for Waterford?
The first time, I lined out for the senior Waterford team was for the Waterford Crystal Cup in October 2000. I remember it well! We were down in New Ross against Wexford and it was a very wet, windy day and Dave Guiney (a very tough competitor) was marking me. I did reasonably ok the same day playing corner forward. Crystal Cup games back then weren’t pretty but I got through it ok 🙂
4. From playing over the years who do you think was the best Waterford hurler?
I played with some fantastic players over the years and was privileged to train with some of the greats. But if I had to single out one player from a forward’s point of view it would have to be Paul Flynn. He was a different class of a player; he could do things that were unimaginable. I picked up a lot from him as he was another corner forward. Been in his presence and training along side him, made me learn a lot over the years when playing for Waterford.
5. Who was the toughest opponent you every faced?
There were numerous players that were tough opponents. To name of a few Wayne Sherlock of Cork, Ollie Canning of Galway, Frank Lohan of Clare and Jackie Tyrell of Kilkenny. Within Waterford, I used to hate marking Brian Greene in training most nights. However, if I had to choose one person that really stood out, it would have to be Ollie Canning of Galway.
6. What was the best hurling goal or point of all time?
For me from a Waterford point of view it was Paul Flynn’s free in 2004 Munster Final. That goal turned the game on its head! I also don’t think you can look beyond Joe Canning’s goal against Kilkenny in last year’s Leinster final. Two unbelievable goals which could only be achieved by two special players.
7. What was the most memorable game you played in for Waterford?
It would have to be winning the Munster Final back in 2002, when I was just after breaking onto the Senior team at the time. To be part of a Waterford team for the first time in thirty-nine years to win a Munster Championship was just magical really! We were playing Tipperary who were All Ireland champions at the time and nobody gave us a chance. We simply put on a fantastic display to over come Tipperary, winning the match 2.23 to 3.12. We were just superb that day and everything clicked. To be part of that panel and group of players to break that losing spell was just unbelievable.
The game meant a lot to the Waterford people. Arriving into Dungarvan that night and coming back into Waterford City with the cup the following day was something that I’ll never forget.
8. What sporting event in the world would you love to attend?
I’d have to narrow it down to two possibly. I was in Argentina on an All Star trip and I went to a Boca Juniors game in Buenos Aires and the atmosphere was just electric! So I’d love to attend the super clásico of River Plate and Boca Juniors and experience that atmosphere again! The second event would be to watch the El Clásico Real Madrid V’s Barcelona soccer game.
9. What current GAA star do you like watching play?
For me, it would be the present hurler of the year, TJ Reid. He is the complete hurler. He has unbelievable skill, is a very good free taker, spectacular at taking sideline cuts, has a very good ground stroke, is very fast with his hands, good wrist work and is able to see a pass to his team mates and for me this makes him the complete hurler.
10. And who’s your favourite sports star outside of GAA?
Growing up it would have been Diego Maradona. He is still the greatest player of all time. Presently my favourite sports star would be Ronnie O’Sullivan in the snooker. I think for anyone to watch the snooker it has to be enjoyable and Ronnie is just a genius and makes the game look so easy. If you look at what he has achieved, its spectacular.