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'I think everyone in the club remembers and it probably acted as a driver for us'

Mikey Mahony and Ballygunner are gearing up for next Sunday’s AIB All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final.

Ballygunner's Mikey Mahony.
Ballygunner's Mikey Mahony.
Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

MIKEY MAHONY DOES not have to look far for guiding influences in his hurling life.

Part of the Ballygunner attack that is flying high now after a sensational showing last Sunday week yielded their second Munster title since 2018, Mahony is aware that the road to such success is not always smooth.

He spent enough time in his formative years watching older brothers Philip and Pauric play to realise that contesting games like next Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final is not straightforward.

“They’ve been through a lot of hardship, in terms of even the defeat to Passage in 2013 (Waterford county final) would have been something they would have talked about a lot in previous years. I would’ve been very young now but of course I do remember it (that 2013 game). I think everyone in the club remembers and it probably acted as a driver for us.

“You can see from the hardship they’ve gone through that it’s opened up the door for us, they’ve set the standards for us to follow.”

The Mahony representation has been swelled in the Waterford champions. Mikey and his younger brother Kevin have nailed down starting berths in the attack, having learned from their more experienced siblings.

“They’d be the first people to tell me now if I wasn’t pulling my weight or doing something right. But I think more so just seeing what they’re doing every day, eating the right foods, going to bed at the right time. The way they’re talking to each other and talking to me, being able to read off them, how to perform at the highest level, is obviously a massive advantage for me and I’m sure for Kevin as well. You’re only going to follow them then if they’re getting the right results.”

Another relation is a stalwart in the Ballygunner ranks. His uncle Shane O’Sullivan’s longevity means he has first-hand experience of a Munster final loss as far back as 2005.

“I think Shane made his debut in ’03 for Ballygunner. The likes of Ronan Power, I don’t know was he even born back then. So of course if you see someone who’s after playing in all grades of hurling, you’re going to have to listen to him once he starts speaking, of course to see the way he acts in training, before training and after training, is massively beneficial for all of us.”

Ballygunner are bidding to reach an All-Ireland decider for the first time in their club’s history. The quality of hurling they served up in dismantling Kilmallock places them as warm favourites but Mahony is wary of the Derry challenge they face.

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“I think if you look back at Slaughtneil’s results in the All-Ireland series, there’s been no games where they’ve been by any means a pushover or anything like that. They ran Ballyhale quite close the last time they came out of Ulster. So look I suppose going into Sunday, we’re not expecting anything other than an absolutely massive challenge from them guys.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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