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Dublin: 2°C Friday 7 May 2021

From All-Ireland club kingpin to Kilkenny debutant and the Ballyhale influence on Carlow

Adrian Mullen made his senior bow for Kilkenny last Sunday.

Kilkenny's Adrian Mullen at today's Bord Gáis Energy U20 hurling championship launch.
Kilkenny's Adrian Mullen at today's Bord Gáis Energy U20 hurling championship launch.
Image: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

WHEN ADRIAN MULLEN made his bow in the senior championship arena for Kilkenny last Saturday night, there was some familiar faces around him as he took his place in attack.

Mullen slipped into a wing-forward berth with TJ Reid alongside him at number 11 and Colin Fennelly inside at the edge of the square.

Just like it was when the trio hit a combined 2-18 as Ballyhale Shamrocks were crowned St Patrick’s Day club kingpins, they lined up in the same positions eight weeks later.

Reid was the scoring star in hitting 2-12 in Kilkenny’s Leinster opener with Fennelly having a key input to creating both of those goals.

Mullen floated over a second-half point and the attacking chemistry he has formed at club level helped him in his entry to the inter-county stage.

“TJ is unbelievable, to create a goal chance out of what didn’t look like anything at that time, himself and Colin just brilliant link up play,” says Mullen.

“They are doing that the whole time with Ballyhale. So I suppose they are well used to each other at this stage.

“It is great to have the Ballyhale lads there, we formed a good partnership during the club. It is no different in county, you just want to stay doing the basics right. We just have a good bond together, we carried that on to last Saturday.

“TJ is a great leader as well, he would be talking away to you, so would Colin. I suppose we do know where each other is going to be, just know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.”

Mullen shot 0-5 in the Croke Park All-Ireland win for Ballyhale in March, capping off a splendid campaign that saw him notch 2-11 in their run to provincial and national glory.

Adrian Mullen celebrates scoring a goal Adrian Mullen hit two goals in last year's Leinster senior club final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Despite being marked absent for Kilkenny’s league endeavours, he was handed a starting jersey for Saturday night’s win over Dublin, a first taste of action in the senior county ranks.

“We were going so well with Ballyhale we missed the League, but I continued to get better and stronger, to keep working hard, and hope things went well. Thankfully I got the start, I’ll just continue to work hard.

“Brian (Cody) He didn’t interfere too much, he just said club is club and club comes first, just stick that out and then the county will be there when we come back.

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“We gave it our all with the club and that’s all we concentrated on at the time. Now we just concentrate on the county.”

The upshot of Saturday was a Kilkenny victory and Dublin defeat but the post-mortem zoned in on Greg Kennedy’s interception of a Reid free despatched towards team-mate Billy Ryan and the subsequent fiery reaction it provoked in the ground.

“We haven’t really spoke about it to be honest, these things happen in the heat of the moment,” reflected Mullen.

“You have to just take it in your stride I suppose. The atmosphere was good before it as well, it probably did add to it a small bit. The crowd did get behind us and there was that bit of extra atmosphere. That’s everything you’d expect from a crowd at a home venue.”

The assignments are coming thick and fast for the DCU student. Kilkenny are away to Carlow in a novel fixture next Sunday with Colm Bonnar a recognisable figure in opposition on the sideline.

Colm Bonnar Carlow hurling boss Colm Bonnar. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“The first year I played with Ballyhale, himself (Colm Bonnar) and Andy Moloney were over us (in) 2017. He’ll have them well tuned and up for this match and obviously in peak condition as well.

“So we’re going to expect a lot from Carlow. It just shows what kind of manager he is. The first year he came in, he won the All-Ireland so I suppose that speaks volumes about Colm as manager. We know what he can bring to a team so we’ll expect that.

“We’re neighbours and Carlow are a pretty good team. We’ve seen that against Galway the last two times so they’re going to really put it up to us. We’re going to give them the respect they deserve because they have earned the respect.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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