IN THE AFTERMATH of Waterford’s Munster championship victory against Clare last June, John Mullane’s celebration provoked plenty debate.
Mullane opted to slide to his knees in celebration after the game in front of where his former Waterford boss and the current Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald was standing.
The Banner supremo later revealed that the actions were prompted by the player having heard inaccurate views that were reported to have come from Fitzgerald himself.
Next Sunday the two counties renew acquaintances in the opening round of Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League.
But despite the controversy that celebration last June sparked, Fitzgerald yesterday at the launch of this year’s league lamented the absence of Mullane, who retired last month, from the national hurling landscape.
“For hurling in general, John Mullane is going to be a massive loss. His character on the field is second to none.
“While I mightn’t have been overly happy by his celebrations after beating us last year, you can’t take away the personality he has.
“I think John was told something to build him up. And if something gets into John’s head it is very hard to change it. Listen, I don’t think we should ever try to change John Mullane.
“We often had one or two words down below (in Waterford) but I would have had serious respect for him as a player. To be honest I’m sorry to see him gone. I genuinely am.”
Waterford’s Eoin Kelly and John Mullane celebrate in front of the Clare dugout after last June’s clash. Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Fitzgerald revealed that he has not had the opportunity to speak to Mullane since the incident and laughed when asked if the De La Salle star reminded him of himself in his playing days with his fire and passion for the game.
“Was I that mad, was I?! I just love his enthusiasm, I think we need it. We don’t want to have boring characters out there, we want to have characters who wear their heart on their sleeve and it means something to them.
“It means something to him to play for Waterford and we need those guys. He has flair and the game needs flair.”
Fitzgerald also would not discount the prospect of Mullane making a comeback to the game.
“From what I have heard John is adamant he won’t be back, but never say never because this guy loves hurling. He never really might have had the passion early in the year but I can tell you one thing that fella would be itching to get out here (Croke Park).
“I personally think John Mullane still has more to give. Would I like to see it? Jaysus, maybe not against Clare I wouldn’t like to see it. But you will miss this guy around, no matter what the story is.”