On a disappointing day for Kilkenny, Adrian Mullen the one shining light
Shaun Murphy was out to do a job on Adrian Mullen.
A man-marker stuck on your boots for every step, it's a fair proposition for a 20-year-old in their first Leinster final. But Adrian Mullen didn't really care.
Forget the struggles he had against Galway, the Ballyhale Shamrocks youngster brought the form from Wexford Park to Croker and by the end of it, he was one of if not Kilkenny's best players and now he's the shining light for the future.
First of all however, let's just rewind a few weeks. That game against Galway. Having missed most of the League due to his Ballyhale Shamrocks commitments, this was the former St Kieran's College student's first real test in a Kilkenny senior jersey.
And it didn't go well. He'll be the first to admit that. Balls were missed, wides were hit and Brian Cody doesn't dither. Mullen was in the stands before the break.
The response says an awful lot about more about a lad though and rather than go into a shell in the kill-or-be-killed environment that is senior hurling, Mullen went down to Wexford Park and he left a few Wexford men in the vapours.
1-3 from open play, the goal sublimely taken and a number of hard balls won. The Club Hurler of the Year has arrived.
Adrian Mullen has arrived to championship hurling!
That is a first touch right from the Gods 😱😱pic.twitter.com/5XCSxFFfNZ
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 15, 2019
Croke Park suits him they say. You'd better believe it. Mullen picked up from where he left off as early as the sixth minute, winning the first of four contested aerial balls he'd win in the game.
He ended his afternoon with three from play but he also assisted a number of scores and won a number of frees himself. Murphy went out to do a job but Mullen was unstoppable and the physical forward had too much power, pace and skill for his marker on a number of occasions.
You also got the sense that if a couple more breaks went his way, Mullen could have had a field day such was the probing threat he posed.
Speaking on Monday's GAA Hour Hurling Show, Brian Carroll gave him the praise he deserves.
"Young Adrian Mullen, I thought he was excellent for his first Leinster final. The amount of aerial ball he's able to catch, for such a young man. He was marking Shaun Murphy, Murphy was back there to man-mark him but only for the sweeper a couple of times, Mullen would have went to town altogether. I thought he was exceptional..."
TJ's always good, but there's another Ballyhale forward delivering for Kilkenny now.
All this from a man who was born the same year Brian Cody began managing the county team. Decent clipping.
You can listen to The GAA Hour hurling Show live here.