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The Kilkenny man who has guided a Carlow club to the brink of Leinster glory

Tom Mullally has been involved with county senior hurling winning teams in Kilkenny and Carlow this year.

Mount Leinster Rangers players celebrate their semi-final win.
Mount Leinster Rangers players celebrate their semi-final win.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

IN A PARALLEL hurling universe, Tom Mullally could have been faced with a fate somewhat similar to that which befell Sean Stack in Ennis last Sunday.

Stack is the Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) manager who masterminded the downfall of his native Sixmilebridge (Clare) in the AIB Munster club SHC final.

Earlier this year, Kilkenny man Mullally was involved with Clara in their historic march to county glory.

But when Clara exited the Leinster championship against Oulart-the-Ballagh, Glenmore native Mullally was free to devote all of his attention to Carlow’s Mount Leinster Rangers, the surprise packets of the provincial campaign.

A brother of former Kilkenny players Richie and Paddy, Tom had a contingency plan in place if Mount Leinster Rangers and Kilkenny kingpins Clara crossed swords.

He explained: “If it happened it was very straightforward: I was manager here, Mick Purcell was manager of Clara.

“So that was all sorted out from the start of the year (that) if we ever met, even in challenge matches or anything, we’d know where the lines were drawn.”

With Clara, Mullally’s role was as an assistant, “helping out” in his own words.

“He (Mick Purcell) wanted a hand so I got caught one night and week and two nights a week and three nights a week and things like that.”

Some insider knowledge will do Mount Leinster Rangers no harm either, as Mullally worked with former Wexford boss Colm Bonnar when the Tipperary man was in charge of the Model County.

No big deal, according to Mullally. He shrugged: “Ah sure Oulart have backboned Wexford for the last decade. Between us all we’ve seen Oulart, the way they play, but dealing with it is a very, very different story.”

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Mount Leinster Rangers manager Tommy Mullally and Oulart–The Ballagh manager Martin Storey
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Mount Leinster Rangers forward Eddie Byrne, goal hero in the Leinster semi-final victory against Ballyboden St Enda’s, reckons that Mullally could go on to become an intercounty manager in his own right.

That assertion prompted a grin from Mullally, who joked: “That won’t guarantee him a place the next day! Not at this point in time, no I’ve enough headaches. We all want to improve but at the same time I was involved with Wexford for two years in the backroom team there.

“I get plenty of enjoyment from club hurling. As long as the players are responsive for what you want them to do, I don’t think you can ask for more.”

Meanwhile, key midfielder Pádraig Nolan admits that the mass hysteria that greeted the Mount Leinster Rangers win against Ballyboden at Dr. Cullen Park left him overwhelmed.

“It was a bit much! But you have to enjoy these things when you get them. Our main priority at the start of the year was to win the county final, our bread and butter, and move on from there.
“We’re lucky we did that and moved into Leinster.”

Defeating Oulart-the-Ballagh would represent the greatest achievement in the club’s history – in their very first Leinster senior decider.

Whatever happens, Nolan believes that MLR and Carlow hurling can only benefit from the experience.

“Carlow hurling needs to progress, needs to be playing the bigger teams,” says the 29 year-old.

“We’ve seen it in our own club and other clubs around the county – we’re getting challenge games against better clubs, which does bring up the standard for everyone. You have to be playing the bigger teams to try and push on things.”

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Mount Leinster Rangers’ Padraig Nolan
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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