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Shin break a big setback for Waterford and a bigger setback for a player in brilliant form

Pauric Mahony suffered a horrific shin break in a club game last night.

Pauric Mahony (right) celebrating last week's league title win over Cork with Austin Gleeson and Martin O'Neill.
Pauric Mahony (right) celebrating last week's league title win over Cork with Austin Gleeson and Martin O'Neill.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LAST SUNDAY, PAURIC Mahony raced down the tunnel underneath Semple Stadium with Waterford captain Kevin Moran shortly after 5pm.

With Cork beaten on the pitch and the hurling league trophy in their grasp, they burst into their riotous team dressing-room. The celebrations erupted once more with the arrival of the duo as Waterford celebrated the seismic achievement of becoming the kings of spring hurling for only the third time.

Waterford had been the feel-good hurling story of the season by clinching promotion from Division 1B after relegation had stalked them in 2014. Their progress through the knockout stages to ultimate honours had copperfastened that notion.

They looked forward to the summer with giddy anticipation and Mahony was symptomatic of that hope. The joint top scorer in the league with 1-90 to his credit, the 22 year-old had demonstrated his status as one of the country’s best free takers in recent months.

He was set to be a central figure in their championship hopes but then last night Mahony’s momentum was brought to a shuddering halt. Lining out in the local championship arena with his club Ballygunner, he suffered a horrific shin break midway through the second-half.

The prognosis is not good. Surgery is in the offing as a spell on the sidelines beckons for four to six months. Those championship plans are in ruins and Mahony is set to be a bystander.

It’s a big setback for a player in a rich vein of form. Mahony was ushered onto the Waterford senior stage in 2011, fresh out of the minor ranks. He shot 0-7 on his first championship outing in a Munster semi-final that Waterford stole from Limerick when John Mullane cracked home a last-gasp goal.

Waterford’s seasons since then have been fruitless, a couple of Munster final losses in 2011 and 2012 before July qualifier exits for the past two years. In 2015 there has been a sense of their fortunes turning and Mahony has been one of the key figures shaping that overhaul.

He starred in the Fitzgibbon Cup for a Waterford IT team that lost this year’s final, just like he did last year when they won the competition. Mahony was selected at centre-forward on the Rising Stars side that honoured the best 15 this year from the third-level action. In seven games, he chalked up 1-65 with 0-47 from placed balls.

Aidan Walsh and Pauric Mahony Pauric Mahony in action for WIT against CIT's Aidan Walsh. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He’ll be a major attacking loss to Waterford. Freetaking has been a potent weapon that Mahony offers his team. 62 white flags were raised in Waterford’s eight league games as a result of dead ball shots from Mahony.

His nerveless showing was instrumental in settling the promotion shootout against Wexford before he helped settle the knockout encounters against Galway, Tipperary and Cork.

Waterford boss Derek McGrath knows the capabilities of the Ballygunner club man. When guiding the De La Salle school side to Harty Cup and Croke Cup triumphs in 2008, McGrath pitched a 15 year-old Mahony into the starting side. That investment of trust was repaid and since assuming the Waterford senior managerial reins, he’s installed Mahony as an attacking lynchpin.

The injury is a reminder in Waterford’s young development of the troughs they will hit along with peaks like last Sunday in Thurles. They have four weeks to get adjusted to the absence of Mahony. Settling on a replacement freetaker will be important but finding someone who offers Mahony’s range, composure and reliablity will not be easy.

It’s a roadblock in Mahony’s hurling career but he doesn’t need to look far for an example of how rehabilitation can unfold. Last Sunday Philip Mahony, Pauric’s older brother by twelve months, surveyed the scenes of celebration in Semple Stadium. It was a year to the day since he had suffered a double fracture to his leg and dislocated his ankle in a club game.

He rebounded to captain Ballygunner to last year’s Waterford county title and slot in at wing-back on a triumphant Deise senior outfit. Bouncing back is the task for his younger brother now but Waterford will miss him in the interim.

Philip Mahony celebrates with Dan Shanahan Philip Mahony celebrates with Dan Shanahan last Sunday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The star forward from Waterford’s league winning campaign suffers horrific shin break

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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