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Morgan Treacy/INPHO Five-time All-Star and former Waterford forward John Mullane.
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'It was a gut-wrenching moment when I heard the news, I felt sick to the stomach' - Mullane
“Pauric Mahony will come back even stronger,” says Deise legend.

JOHN MULLANE HAS backed Pauric Mahony to return ‘a stronger and better player’ after suffering a season-ending injury over the weekend.

Mahony, who was Waterford’s top scorer as they clinched this year’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1 title, broke his shin during a club game for Ballygunner on Saturday night.

The forward turns 23 today but is unlikely to be celebrating as he contemplates watching on from the sidelines for the duration of Waterford’s championship campaign, which begins against Cork at Semple Stadium on 7 June.

When asked for his reaction to Mahony’s injury, former Waterford star John Mullane said: “You can’t deny that it’s going to be a massive blow for Waterford. Pauric Mahony has probably been one of the highlights of the league and probably the main talisman for Waterford throughout the course of the league.

“You have to realise how much of a loss he is when you take into account what he contributed throughout the course of the league.”

Having contributed a personal tally of 1-90, Pauric Mahony shared the summit of the scoring charts in this year’s Allianz Hurling League with Cork’s Patrick Horgan. Mahony hit 0-11 in Waterford’s defeat of the Rebels in the decider eight days ago.

“It was a gut-wrenching moment when I heard the news, I felt sick to the stomach when I heard it,” said Mullane. “I really feel for the lad. Knowing Pauric as I do, I think he’ll come back a stronger player.

“In the last couple of years you’ve got to give him great credit for where he’s got to as a player. He’s built himself into a marvellous player and I’ve no doubt that Pauric Mahony will come back even stronger and a better player.”

While acknowledging that Mahony’s absence will be a significant blow to Waterford’s championship prospects, Mullane remains hopeful that the injury to one of their key players will galvanise Derek McGrath’s panel.

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inpho_00925280 ©INPHO / Cathal Noonan Waterford's Pauric Mahony is set for a lengthy injury lay-off. ©INPHO / Cathal Noonan / Cathal Noonan

The five-time All-Star said: “From a Waterford point of view, knowing Derek McGrath as I do — I played under him at club level — I think he’ll try to turn a negative into a positive. He’ll use Pauric’s injury in a positive manner. Hopefully the manner in which this is after happening, I think it’ll entice players to give an extra 10% for Pauric this year.

“If you look at the panel now, I suppose Derek McGrath has built up a bit of a panel throughout the course of the league. He might look at possibly bringing Darragh Fives into the fold now and pushing someone up into that centre-forward role, but it’s easier said than done.

“Pauric Mahony was an artist at playing that number 11 role. It’s not an easy role to play within the system that Waterford are playing at the moment.”

John Mullane was speaking at the launch of RTÉ’s 2015 GAA Championship coverage. RTÉ will broadcast 31 live games in HD across the summer, including all six provincial finals, four All-Ireland Senior quarter-finals, plus All-Ireland Senior semi-finals and finals in both hurling and football.

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