All-Star Mannion still grounded after Galway’s memorable year

Galway hurler Padraic Mannion pictured with his All-Star award during the PwC All Stars banquet at the Convention Centre in Dublin on Friday night. Photo: Seb Daly/ Sportsfile.
Galway hurler Padraic Mannion pictured with his All-Star award during the PwC All Stars banquet at the Convention Centre in Dublin on Friday night. Photo: Seb Daly/ Sportsfile.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

IF there is any group of players who deserve a team holiday it is the Galway senior hurlers . . . if only for those precious and priceless moments that were forged in the fires of unbridled joy and passion upon the final whistle of last September’s All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Croke Park erupted and invaluable memories every Galwegian will cherish were fashioned in a material that will last an eternity. Indeed, it didn’t matter where you watched the decider that day – be it on Jones Road, back home West or on foreign shores – every Galway heart burst with pride.

For supporters, the famine, the turmoil, the years of near misses and disappointments had ended. For the management and players, it was just reward for the countless hours they had given to applying themselves to the task in hand. Hours of dedication, hours of sacrifice.

The ultimate reward, of course, is that coveted Celtic Cross medal but, even at that, at least to an ‘outsider’, it seems small recompense for a year – or, in some players’ case, years – of living like a monk. For most inter-county players, it’s work, training/playing, sleep. It’s all or nothing.

“I suppose, at times, it can it be tough,” admits Galway defender Padraic Mannion, who capped off a fantastic year with an All-Star award last weekend. “In fairness, though, training is hugely enjoyable and you can have a bit of craic with the lads as well.

“So, look it, after the year we have had, it has definitely been worth everything we have put into it. Even when you get a holiday at the end of the year, things like that really make it worthwhile,” says the Ahascragh/Fohenagh clubman.

It’s traditional by now that the All-Ireland winners would take a holiday and if any side deserves it, it is the Tribesmen. A fundraising drive has been ongoing but to push the expense of this over the line, a ‘Victory Celebration’ will be held in the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa on Thursday, November 23.

Hosted by the Tribesmen Galway GAA Supporters Club, all proceeds raised will go to the ‘Players Holiday Fund’. Entertainment on the night will include Barry Murphy of Après Match and music will be provided by the Galway Tenors. In addition to Galway’s All-Ireland winners, the Liam McCarthy Cup will be in attendance.

For Mannion and the Galway hurlers, the team holiday to North America and Mexico over the festive season is an opportunity to catch up on some well-deserved ‘down time’. Mannion, understandably, is looking forward to it.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.