John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts after hurling championship games.
So John, what did you think of the match between Waterford & Kilkenny?
After thinking about it and watching the match again, our lads put in an enormous effort in the first half and it was close. They were on Kilkenny’s heels, it was most certainly there for them. Practically when Austin Gleeson got that score on the solo run, we brought it back to one point; I thought we had a great chance then. The thing is we gave way a few silly frees in the first half and that kept Kilkenny in it. Kilkenny were under par in the first half and it was there for Waterford but whatever Brian Cody said at half time, they came out a new team in the second half and the whole game changed. Kilkenny been Kilkenny, like Tipperary once they get their margin of four points over you its very hard to claw back and they went on to win the game.
I think overall the bit of experience, kind of won it for Kilkenny. A couple of mistakes at crucial stages of the game won it on the day for them. I think overall our lads, both players and management will learn a lot from last Sunday’s experience and we’ll be a better team going forward for it and the future. These are the games you want to play in and for an awful lot of those lads they will be back and more days to be played in Croke Park.
Would you have liked to be playing in Croker last Sunday?
Yes would be the answer to that question. Anytime these teams are playing each other it’s nearly easier to play than watch it! It’s the one fixture that you’d always like to play in, as there is so much rivalry between Waterford & Kilkenny. It always appeals to Waterford players and supporters.
Where does it leave Waterford now?
Overall it was a very good year for Waterford, if you told me at the start of the year that we’d get promoted, win the league, get to a Munster hurling final and All Ireland Semi final and play against Kilkenny with such a young team. I would’ve taken the left arm off you!
You got to commend our lads for an unbelievable year and if you had to pick out one player over the course of the year, that would have to be Maurice Shanahan. To play the role he played, I don’t think there is too many lads in the county or in the country could play that role. I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself. He has played an unbelievable part over the course of the championship and he has more or less but in performances for the team that required a lot of patience. I also thought he really showed up and took on that leadership role.
In particular after Paudie Mahoney got injured he took on that responsibility and the challenge of taking on that leadership role and taking the frees. During the course of the championship, I think he only missed one free during it and that was in the Munster Final. It’s an unbelievable record. On top that, he came up with points from play over the course of the championship. Great year for him!
Next year, a new year!
What I’d like to see happening, is maybe not go back as early and possibly not make the league the bee all and end all. They had to target the league last year and start back training in October to gain some confidence and get the show on the road. That’s exactly what they did, by winning it. Next year, if they lost a couple of games early on, so be it. There shouldn’t be enormous pressure on them during the league. The main priority should be the championship and target getting back into an All Ireland semi final and target being fresh for the end July start of August and push on from there.
The one thing that did stand out last week, there was an element of tiredness with some players on the team. But that’s only expected as they were training flat out since last October!
In your opinion could either Tipperary or Galway master Kilkenny?
I went for Tipp to win the Munster championship and Kilkenny to win Leinster Championship and I went for Tipp to win the All Ireland and I’m standing by that. I just feel if Galway were to beat Tipp, I think Kilkenny would beat Galway. Tipp on the other hand, have had that bit between their teeth over last year. One thing if you were to beat Kilkenny, the whole team and management have to fully believe that they’re going to beat Kilkenny and Tipperary are the only team that I feel takes to the field and truly believe that they can take on and go toe to toe with Kilkenny. We’ve seen it over the years with some tremendous finals. I think if Tipp can get over Galway, I fancy Tipp to win the final. With Kilkenny’s performance last Sunday, they will have to go up another 10%-20% if they want to win the final and beat Tipperary.
I’m really looking forward to watching the last two games of the 2015 season!