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Cúl Heroes 2017 ambassador Padraic Mannion.
Cúl Heroes 2017 ambassador Padraic Mannion.

Padraic Mannion: ‘People are bound to be optimistic’

*By Cian O’Connell *

Following a hectic spring Padraic Mannion is looking forward to a summer that glimmers with promise.

Mannion was on the beat with Ahascragh-Fohenagh, NUIG, and Galway early in the year, but Sunday May 27 is the date etched in maroon minds presently.

A Leinster SHC Quarter-Final assignment against Dublin can be classed as an awkward assignment, but hopes are high in the west, especially following the recent Allianz Hurling League triumph.

“Any year when you are coming into the start of Championship everybody is looking forward to it, there is anticipation,” Mannion admitted when speaking at the official launch of the GAA/GPA 2017 Cúl Heroes trading cards and magazine.

“Coming off the League people are bound to be optimistic, but as we have said already and we keep saying it, the League is different to Championship.

“No matter who you are playing in the Championship it is three gears ahead of the League. You can take what you want out of the League, positives and negatives from what you learn, but Championship is Championship. It is all about performing on that day really.”

Valuable lessons have been learned by Mannion during his three years on the Galway panel. “I suppose you pick up a few small things here and there as the years go by, you're a bit more experienced,” Mannion says.

“When you come in first you don't really have any fear either, when you are younger you are inexperienced you don't have any fear. Sometimes when you've more experience you could be even more nervous, but you'd like to think you'd be learning along the way and developing as a hurler each year.”

Mannion’s debut occurred in 2015 and he is adamant that Micheal Donoghue is continuing to develop emerging talent out west. “I suppose we are still a relatively young panel,” is Mannion’s assessment.

“I heard someone saying recently that this panel is six or seven years together, but I have only two years played, this is only my third year.

“We have a lot of lads in the same boat, I feel we are relatively young, not hugely experienced either. You need a few young lads coming up each year to keep the squad fresh, to keep the pressure on other lads too.”

In the knockout stages of the League Galway posted encouraging wins over Waterford, Limerick, and Tipperary to secure silverware.

“It was nice to finish with a few good performances,” Mannion acknowledges. “At the start of the League it was a bit up and down for a while, but we got some consistency into the performances in the latter end of the League.

“That is one thing we were looking for. I suppose we wanted to stay in it as well, the more games you get the better preparation it is for Championship. From that point of view it was a success. More than 30 players got game time during the League so that was a good experience too.

“I know when I started out I found the League very good, even for confidence and just playing against top teams in a less pressurised environment than the Championship. Still the Championship is a different level than what you play in the League.”

Dublin manager Ger Cunningham has invested hugely in youth, while several top class performers were instrumental in Cuala’s AIB All Ireland SHC success. Mannion knows the threat a pumped up Dublin outfit can carry.

“We saw them in the League, they did fairly well, they put in a few very good performances,” Mannion remarks.

“They are trying to build with a good few young lads coming in and they have the Cuala lads back so they will be better again. We are under no illusion about the challenge ahead, we have to be looking forward to it, these are the games you want to be playing.”

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