"He talks, you listen" - learning from legends and marking Adrian Mullen in training 4 months ago

"He talks, you listen" - learning from legends and marking Adrian Mullen in training

19 and busier than ever. Evan Shefflin is getting used to it now.

The last year really has been a hurling whirlwind. But he's happy to be going from breakthrough to breakthrough. It's all new to him, this All-Ireland winning stuff, this Kilkenny senior stuff, this captaining Kilkenny stuff.

He's learning on he's feet and he's enjoying every moment of it. It's a bit of a novelty when you're still a few months from your 20th birthday.

The buzz is lively in Kilkenny these days. It never really fades barring a hurling travesty but there's no danger of that. There's always something to keep them going.

Evan Shefflin's main focus in on the under-20 team now. DJ Carey made him the captain at the start of the year and nothing less than a few trophies will do.

He got the taste for it with Ballyhale Shamrocks you see. They won County, Leinster and All-Ireland titles. Evan with his crisp ball striking and good reading of the game was a key player at wing back. His uncle Henry was the manager.

What a year this man has had.

"Every one of us to a man worked really hard, and obviously you have to get lucky at times and thank God we did," he said.

Luck had nothing to do with the 19-year-old's impressive performances. Nor did family favours.

"I think that works against you sometimes," he said of his legendary uncle being the Ballyhale manager.

Indeed, from Henry to DJ, this fella has had his fair share of legends pointing the way.

"It’s DJ Carey, he knows what he’s talking about, so when whenever he talks you shut up and you listen to him. You take on board whatever he says to you, it’s as simple as that," Shefflin says of DJ.

"That’s the way a lot of managers get on these days. He’s very watchful and just takes it all in. Obviously he’ll intervene if he has to, if it’s not good enough or whatever, but he just lets us hurl away. I think you kind of need that sometimes, just let lads go at each other for a while. If it’s not up to standard, he’ll come in and give us a bollocking, and we go back at it again. He’s very insightful and he sees everything, so he’s not going to miss much..."

"He’s a very quiet man in general. Like I say, he’s very insightful, a very intelligent man. If he talks you listen, and whatever he has to say to you, you take it on board as much as possible.

"They’re very similar, they have a good hurling brain the two of them, so it’s the same with Henry, when he talks, you listen and you take it on board. Henry tries to be hands-on, and obviously DJ does as well, but there’s only a certain amount a manager can do on his own. There’s a lot of work put into it, I know myself, my father has managed teams before, and there’s a lot of work that goes into it. The manager having to train lads, and having all the physio work and all the strength and conditioning work, there’s a lot in it. I think taking a step back is probably the right thing to do at times, and then if he has to jump in, he will. I think that’s a good thing as well..."

Shefflin isn't just learning from the best in terms of managers. Having been called into the Kilkenny senior panel by Brian Cody after the great club-run, his experienced club-mates, the likes of Colin Fennelly and TJ Reid have helped him along the way.

"Yeah they’re all very helpful, and will all tell you if you’re going bad, or especially if you’re going well, they’ll let you know you are going well. If you’re not going well, they’ll give you a bollocking, but that’s just the way it is. They’re all in there for one goal that’s to win the All-Ireland, so if you’re not putting your shoulder to the wheel they’re going to let you know."

And the not so experienced ones too. Adrian Mullen hasn't taken too long to settle in as a Kilkenny senior. There was never any fear of something different, according to Shefflin.

"Adrian, that was always the way he was, always looking ahead. Whether it was playing U14, he’d have an eye on U16. I don’t know what he’s going to do when he eventually gets to fully senior level. He’s a fantastic talent, I unfortunately have to mark him a lot, which brings me on at the same time. On Sunday, things didn’t always go his way, but he will work a savage amount, it’s a huge part of his game.

"He’s a very confident hurler. I think even the goal he got was fantastic (against Wexford), the touch was super. He’s a brilliant hurler with a great hurling brain, and whether he hurls well or not, he works hard. But when he does hurl well, it really clicks for him and he can put performances like that under his belt. He’ll be around for a long time to come.

On Wednesday night it's the under-20 final, and Shefflin is delighted to be leading his county into a Bord Gais Leinster final.

"Yeah it’s good. Probably a lot of people outside the county were doubting Kilkenny. There is a bit of buzz now leading up to the game on Wednesday and of course the match against Limerick, so yeah, all go around Kilkenny..."

In attendance at the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-20 Provincial Championship Finals preview are, from left, Eoin O’Leary of Wexford, Evan Shefflin of Kilkenny, Robert Downey of Cork and Jake Morris of Tipperary at Saint Annes Park in Dublin. Wexford will take on Kilkenny in the Leinster decider on Wednesday night at 7.30pm at Innovate Wexford Park.