It’s not too often you will hit the spotlight in your first season of intercounty hurling, but Kilkenny star Adrian Mullen did just that as he took home the Young Player of the Year award last weekend at the GAA All Star Awards.
The honour capped a brilliant individual year for the forward who took the hurling prize as odds on favorite ahead of Limerick’s Kyle Hayes and fellow DCU teammate Rory O’Connor from Wexford. Mullen also scooped an All-Ireland club title with Ballyhale Shamrocks as well as the Club Hurler of the Year award last spring.
Speaking on winning his award Mullen told The College View that when his name was called out, his body nearly collapsed.
“I couldn’t believe it, it is such a fantastic honour and a great way to finish out the year.” he said.
The Ballyhale man who won a second Kilkenny county title just over two weeks ago admitted being a small bit “shell shocked” at the enormity of the achievement.
“You dream of winning awards like this. It’s why we play the game. When you have footballers like Stephen Cluxton coming up to you to shack your hand and congratulate you, you then know what an honour to win an award like this is,” said Mullen.
Every great championship season needs a great newcomer or upcoming star and Mullen has only been player senior club hurling for two years and county senior hurling since May but has enjoyed a stellar debut season and established himself as one of the most important players in Brian Cody’s Kilkenny attack alongside fellow Ballyhale men TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly.
Mullen has been one of the key men for Kilkenny in the latter half of the campaign. The young forward was hooked before half time by Brian Cody in the narrow Leinster round robin loss to Galway but bounced back to play an instrumental role in the upset win over Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Speaking to Independent.ie last Summer, Waterford legend John Mullane stated that the 20-year-old Mullen is one of the most crucial players that Kilkenny have got.
“He is only 20 and that’s a big thing when you’re a player at this level because you have no fear and you’re carefree. You do what you want because you feel you’re going to be back here again soon in an All-Ireland Final,” said John Mullane.
Mullen hit three points from play in his teams Leinster final defeat to Wexford and four points from play in his All-Ireland semi-final win over Limerick in Croke Park last Summer, this moved him into odds of 1/10 to collect the Young Hurler of the Year award later this year.
“We as a team were wrote off by people at the start of the year, but thankfully I’m surrounded by a fantastic group of players who all believed in themselves and a brilliant manager Brian Cody,” Mullen said.
Speaking on the All-Ireland final loss to Tipperary last August, Mullen and his Kilkenny teammates have been looking forward to the future.
“It didn’t go our way unfortunately on the day but ever since the final whistle went last August, we have been setting our sights on 2020. I just love playing for Kilkenny and I can’t wait to get back to it. The matches against Wexford and Limerick, you live for them days. The thing for next season is how can we improve in training? How can we get better and not make the same mistakes as we did last season?”
Mullen will not have long to celebrate however, as his club Ballyhale Shamrocks are back on track, in hot pursuit of a another Leinster championship after defeating James Stephens in the Kilkenny county final by nine points little over a fortnight ago with Mullen adding a point to the scoreboard.
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