Modest Mannion happy to adapt
By Eoghan Tuohey
Padraic Mannion, a 2018 PwC Hurler of the Year nominee, is modest when the scale of his achievements are brought up.
“It’s nice to be nominated," Mannion admits. "It’s nice to get a bit of recognition. It’s not something you put too much thought into as a player, you just try to do all you can for the team. At the end of the year, if that leads to an award or anything like that, whether it’s an All-Star or anything like that, it’s just an added bonus.”
The consistent half-back was a familiar figure throughout the Championship campaign, and he is shortlisted for the prestigious award against fellow Tribesman, Joe Canning, who is looking to, remarkably, retain the crown, and Limerick midfielder, Cian Lynch.
Yet, while the individual achievement of securing a nomination are huge to the science and maths secondary school teacher, there can be no doubt that finishing a season minus the biggest prize of all still leaves a bitter taste lingering from August 19th. “It's a personal accolade, but the All-Ireland final is different," Mannion says.
"We all play for medals really. It's not something you aim for at the start of the year to get Player of the Year. I don't think there's too many players that do that, but it'd be something you look back on and be very proud of when you've hung up the boots."
Mannion acknowledged how his role and indeed the tactics of the team as a whole had to be adapted in the closing games of the campaign. "With the sweeper role, I was very used to it with the club and I had played that role a lot in the previous season," Mannion states. "It wasn't something that new to me.
"With the Limerick game it was going to be completely different because they don't play a sweeper, Clare did. It's kind of a different game plan."
The tiny margin for error that was highlighted several times during the course of this years’ Championship was discussed, as were Mannion’s dominant emotions as he watched Canning’s late free in the final. “Yeah, I was just hoping he’d either put it over, or if it dropped in that someone with a Galway jersey was going to win it, but lookit, I don’t think it came down to that free really, it was the 50 or 60 minutes before that where the game was won and lost.”
Despite his modesty, Mannion was a vital member of this Galway side who came within one point of forcing a replay of the All-Ireland final. His aerial prowess and effective distribution was an invaluable weapon throughout the campaign, and though perhaps merely only consolation to the man himself, his excellence in making the Player of the Year shortlist cannot be questioned.