FORMER KILKENNY ALL-Ireland winner John Mulhall has returned to inter-county hurling and will play for Kildare in the 2017 National League and Christy Ring Cup competitions.
It is expected that an ex-Tipperary hurler will also join Joe Quaid’s Lilywhite revolution in the coming days, while David Reidy – a member of the Limerick senior panel last year – has also signed transfer forms and confirmed his involvement with Kildare for the year ahead.
But it is the transfer of the colourful Mulhall that will attract headlines for an out-of-the-blue move.
The mercurial St Martin’s man made quite a name for himself for his laid-back manner and unique approach to the game, but there was no doubting his talent and ability to pick points from the wing.
Having won a Leinster minor medal, Mulhall won his first All-Ireland title in 2008 at U21 level.
He made his first appearance for the Kilkenny team during the 2009 Walsh Cup and was a regular impact substitute for Brian Cody over the next two seasons.
Three years later he came on as a substitute for the Cats in their 2011 All-Ireland final 2-17 to 1-16 win over Tipperary.
But Mulhall failed to make the 2012 championship panel and moved on from his Kilkenny senior career with that All-Ireland winners’ medal and two Leinster SH medals.
For the past two years, the 27-year-old has been teaching business and maths in Greenhills College in Dublin. Before that he managed to see part of the world, travelling to Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Now, however, he has answered Quaid’s call to join Kildare. Under official GAA guidelines, introduced in 2006, up to five players from MacCarthy Cup teams are allowed to switch to a county competing in the Christy Ring or Nicky Rackard competitions.
Upon taking the Kildare job last year, Quaid pledged to stick with native hurlers only. They responded well, winning the Kehoe Cup and only missing out on a Christy Ring Cup final appearance by two points.
This year Quaid invited 67 players to try out for the team but only 24 accepted the invitation. After consultation with the players the Kildare manager relented and looked to bring in outside talent.
Quaid explains: “We lost Gerry Keegan, one of the best players in Leinster, who is gone travelling and we are down one or two other big players as well.
“We scoured the county but didn’t get the interest we wanted. So after listening to the players – and they want to win things – we have decided to bring in five outside players.
“All five have already trained with us and there are four transfer forms gone to Croke Park, but hopefully we have one more player left to introduce – but that declaration will be in his own time.
“Those lads have already given the place a lift.
“John is the most laid-back man in the country. He turned up for his first training session wearing a Christmas jumper and a pair of shorts that you would be afraid to wear on a beach and he went home with a big tub of protein powder.
“The lads already love him. He is a serious hurler and he wants to hurl, he has bags of ability in him and we welcome him.”
Kildare were beaten by a point by Meath last weekend in the Walsh Cup, but one of those outside players Limerick’s David Reidy (from the Dromin-Athlacca club) did impress.
Last March, Reidy won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with Mary Immaculate College as he hit 0-3 in their final win over UL.
“Three years ago David was on the list of the top young hurlers in the country to look out for,” Quaid adds.
“He didn’t make the Limerick squad this year but he is going to be a huge asset to us. His brother Mike, is living in Kildare already and he was on the Limerick senior squad too.
“He will be travelling up and down to West Limerick for work but will make a huge commitment for the year ahead. Dinny Stapleton from the Sean Treacy’s club in Tipperary is also with us.”
It is expected that another Tipperary player, this time one with senior championship experience will also join the panel this weekend but out of courtesy to the player, Quaid said he would not yet discuss his inclusion as it had not been fully cemented.
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