Glorious redemption for Aussie after years of hurt 5 months ago

Glorious redemption for Aussie after years of hurt

Austin Gleeson has to listen to a lot of rubbish.

Yes, he was Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year at 20. Yes, he's one of the most skilful aristocrats ever to have graced the hallowed turf. Yes, he's had some bad days in the last couple of years.

But Austin Gleeson is human, and we should all know that bad days come with the territory. Rewind to 2016 for a minute. The gifted one had just put down one of the most spell-binding seasons of any player who didn't win an All-Ireland medal. The individual awards came his way and because he was so young, with so much hurling to be done, Aussie was expected to put Waterford on his shoulders and drag them to the highs of the Hogan Stand.

Sometimes we get carried away. Those expectations had a whiff of unrealistic.

Just like Clare found out after 2013, glory is but a fleeting thing. Youth alone does not guarantee you a future of gold and winning is no divine right.

There are lots of players, and lots of teams hurling out of their collective skins in any given season and the margins they are fine. Hurling is a game based on the finest of them and find yourself an inch or two on the wrong side, and you won't be spared.

Austin Gleeson found himself on the wrong side on a couple of occasions and by God was he spared. Over-rated. Useless. Doesn't even bother out there.

Fast forward to 2020.

The Mount Sion club man drops to his knees and keels over on the Croke Park turf. Moments earlier, he had slung over a point that he could have trademarked, his fifth point of the game. The whistle was blown and Waterford were back in an All-Ireland final, the emotion of it all making him visibly weak.



The second half of the All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final was quite frankly, an incredible spectacle. Unheralded men like Jack Fagan and Jack Prendergast were doing their hurling from another planet. The often criticised Stephen Bennett was doing things you wouldn't advise juveniles to dream of. Jamie Barron and Tadhg De Búrca were at their imperious best. Kevin Moran was his ever-reliable self and Darragh Lyons was inspired. His namesake Callum for the love of God, was catching balls over TJ Reid's head. What sort of sane sinner would even bother to attempt that?

But still, there's more. Kilkenny played their part as they always do. Cillian Buckley was on form after a horrible run with injuries and it was a sight for the sorest of eyes. TJ was TJ-ing around the place and both Paddy Deegan and Huw Lawlor were fired up. Brian Cody's men went down, but went down with their customary fight.

Then there was Aussie. One of his second half scores, over the shoulder and off the back foot, made your knees weak. On the sideline, that dream management duo of Liam Cahill and Mikey Bevans were dancing.

Aussie was in love with the game again. And so were all of us.