Recently retired Waterford hurler John Mullane was in Ennis on Sunday, to see his former team-mates enjoy a 2-15 to 1-17 win over Clare in the first round of the Allianz NHL Division 1A.
He later admitted it was a ‘strange’ experience watching from the terrace.
In his column in Monday’s Irish Independent, he writes: “I attended the game in Ennis yesterday and, I won’t lie, I felt very awkward and strange going into the ground.
“For the first half I found it quite difficult looking on but as the game wore on and the more Waterford dug in, I was getting the hang of being there as a supporter. I’m only human and part of me did itch to be out there now and again, especially when the ball was zipped into the forwards. But that’s only natural, particularly so soon after announcing my retirement.”
He added: “A good few Clare people came up to me at Cusack Park, shook my hand and wished me well for the future, which was nice. De La Salle were down for the weekend and we played Sixmilebridge in a challenge game on Saturday.
“At the match yesterday, I could hide among the lads to an extent but the more the game hung in the balance, the more I let off a roar and a shout.”
Mullane was also full of praise for the performance of the young Deise players in yesterday’s victory:
“For me, the most pleasing thing about yesterday was the performance of the young lads. My De La Salle clubmate Jake Dillon was outstanding and I was so pleased for Brian O’Halloran, who has endured two years of injury hell.
“If Waterford can keep him fit, he’ll be a big addition to that forward line and don’t forget that you have Maurice Shanahan, Shane Walsh and Liam Lawlor to come back into that team. There are so many positives to be taken out of the game and it takes a massive amount of pressure off the lads because they were written off as relegation candidates.
“Now, a win against Cork in two weeks’ time and they’ll have secured their Division 1A status for next year, and put themselves in a position to push on for the semi-finals. That would be a huge achievement, considering that nobody expected anything from them.”