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earning curve; mullen proves worth after a ropey start.

Byline: PAUL KEANE

A WEEK after Ballyhale Shamrocks were crowned All-Ireland club champions last March, Adrian Mullen made his senior debut for Kilkenny. It didn't go well.

Or so we are led to believe from those who watched him wear the black and amber in the Kieran O'Connor benefit game against Cork.

Even Henry Shefflin (right), Mullen's club manager and hero, acknowledged Mullen "struggled by all accounts" in the sevenpoint Pairc Ui Rinn defeat. If it all seemed like too much, too soon, Mullen put that to bed with his Championship form.

He's favourite to be named Young Hurler of the Year and has scored 1-13 in total. Mullen said of his Championship journey so far: "I had a few bad games there at the start but it was nice to pick up a bit of form again. It turned around just from working hard in training really, keeping the head down through the tough times."

It shouldn't come as any great surprise that Brian Cody put his faith in Mullen. He's a first cousin of the Fennellys, Michael and Colin, and all three won the club All-Ireland together.

Colin is still going strong for Kilkenny and will surely have a word in his young cousin's ear an hour or two before throw-in today, to settle him.

Mullen said: "I've looked up to Colin since I was a young age, TJ Reid too, all the club lads really. They were all definitely heroes of mine. Initially it was fairly daunting coming in with Kilkenny but those lads, to be fair, made me feel comfortable and helped me settle.

It wasn't just me either, the other new lads that came were all made to feel really welcome. They're all top lads, sound lads in that dressing-room."

DCU student Mullen admitted he found the going tough initially as a Kilkenny senior and was grateful for Cody's show of faith, an investment that paid off as the Championship went on.

Mullen said: "The Galway game, I found that hard, the speed of it. I knew then I had to adapt.

"That was the game I learned so much from and Brian was very good to me in terms of guiding me through the good and bad times.

"He is always there motivating you, he's a superb motivator."

CAPTION(S):

vital cog in wheel Kilkenny's Adrian Mullen had a shaky start for Cats but has bedded in now

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Aug 18, 2019
Words:404
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