'This is a good distraction': 46-year old championship debutant lost his job the week of shock call-up

Mulhearne joked that he wasn’t prepared to slog through winter training after enjoying his day in the sun with Waterford.

Mulhearne runs out for a kick-out.
Mulhearne runs out for a kick-out.
Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

DARREN MULHEARNE, THE 46-year old goalkeeper who made his senior championship debut for Waterford footballers at the weekend, has revealed how he lost his job the week that he received his shock call-up to the squad.

Mulhearne kept a clean sheet at Cusack Park in Ennis on Saturday evening, though it wasn’t enough to prevent a 0-9 to 0-8 loss to Clare in the Munster SFC quarter-final after a gutsy performance.

But behind the feelgood factor of a 46-year old making his championship debut is the reality that, off the field, Mulhearne is currently dealing with unemployment having been let go from his job of 19 years as a construction inspector.

“I’m actually unemployed at the minute. I got redundancy from my job. I was in a job for 19 years with Virgin Media up until a few days before the madness started,” said Mulhearne, after they had almost shocked Clare.

Injury to regular goalkeeper Aaron Beresford meant manager Benji Whelan looked to Mulhearne to solve his problem a fortnight ago. The call came as a surprise to Mulhearne, but it was a timely boost for him, coming the week he got redundancy from the job he worked in for almost two full decades.

“It was about a week after the redundancy that I got the call, so this is a good distraction. Yeah, it’s great, great news. I might become a professional footballer,” he remarked.

Mulhearne is not the oldest player ever to play inter-county GAA. Most recently Leitrim hurling goalkeeper Tommy McLoughlin played until he was 47 back in 2012, while former Cavan goalkeeper Enda Sheridan was 52 when he lined out in 1999, but Mulhearne is surely the oldest player to ever make his debut.

Twenty-nine years on from his first call up to the Waterford panel as a 17-year-old, the 46-year-old Kilrossanty goalkeeper said he was delighted with his performance in Ennis. 

The day was made all the more special because his extended family were all in Cusack Park to witness the historic event. His wife Camilla, their 15-year-old son Cian, and daughters Casey (13) and Caoimhe (9) were all there, which gave him an enormous sense of pride at full-time.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, every single minute of it. It was brilliant. A dream come true,” added Mulhearne.

Look, I’ve a couple of children. The girls like football; my son, he’s not big into the GAA or any kind of a sport. Even him, he’s delighted for me. It was a great buzz for them. They even travelled up. The whole lot, even my sisters travelled up today. It was great.

“I was only called up two weeks ago last Wednesday. I only came for the last while, I can’t be doing that winter training. That’s for mugs!

“The whole team welcomed me in straight away. It has been great, and the whole buzz around it, kind of generated a buzz for a few weeks as well. It was, it was brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

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Darren Mulhearne makes his debut for Waterford at 46 years old Mulhearne was hoping to help Waterford claim a first Munster Championship win since 2010. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Now that he has broken his inter-county duck, Mulhearne is hungry for more action, but he will have to wait and see who Waterford are paired with in the first round of qualifiers before he can plan his second day out. Even if the squad’s injuries clear up he is keen to play his part.

“Hopefully I’ll stay on. Look, even if I’m not playing I’ll be able to give support to the keepers. Then you’ve two or three keepers at least you can do things and improve everybody. That’s the thing, keep improving now and get a good draw in the qualifiers, get a home draw and hopefully we’ll get a run at that.

“Look, we’re very disappointed to lose, but it’s great that you can be disappointed after going to a second division team and be so disappointed that you lost. Hopefully we can drive on from here.”

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Declan Rooney

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