Thursday 29 September 2016

Mulkerrin bids for another All-Ireland to cap off incredible Island journey

Michael Verney

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

The incident is being dealt with by the Galway County Board
The incident is being dealt with by the Galway County Board

Anyone who watched the first All Ireland Talent Show won't forget the Mulkerrin brothers capturing the nation's hearts through song and dance, but it might come as a surprise to see the youngest of that trio showcasing his football talents in Croke Park tomorrow.

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Seven years ago Seán Mulkerrin was the beaming sean-nós dancer with a flair for the banjo, who along with his two older brothers claimed the €50,000 first prize, whereas now he's the towering defender orchestrating the Galway minor full-back line.

Mulkerrin (17) who is still eligible for minor in 2017 and cannot play adult football until then, has been a rock for Stephen Joyce's side as they chase their seventh All-Ireland minor crown against a three-in-a-row seeking Kerry side.

Arthur Flaherty has coached him since national school and he feels what makes his exploits all the more remarkable is that the fluent Gaeilgeoir is doing it all from his base in the Aran Islands.

Mainlanders couldn't possibly understand the problems geography creates for those living off the coast and Flaherty paid tribute to his dedication and drive to wear a Galway jersey despite extenuating circumstances.

"He'd be going out on the five o'clock boat and in Rossaveal at six, on from there he'd be in Galway around seven and then he'd be out to Loughgeorge for training," Flaherty says.

"If it was early training he'd have to get permission to leave school early and get the plane out (a six or seven-minute journey with Aer Arann) so there were lots of times he'd have to miss days and then come in the following morning on the plane.

"Luckily enough when he made the minor team he was able to get the boat by himself and the Moycullen boys would pick him up in Eyre Square on the way to Loughgeorge, and then he'd stay with his friends.

"It's a big commitment for a young fella. He did his Leaving Cert as well this year so he had it both ways. He deserves huge credit and also his dad who has brought him everywhere, he went all around the country."

Despite humble beginnings, Mulkerrin, now in his second week as a fresher studying Arts in NUIG, has grown into an exciting prospect for the Tribesman.

"Everyone remembers him and his brothers. He was the smallest fella, always smiling but he's tall now, he's a big lad. To look at him now you'd swear he was too old for minor," Flaherty says.

"I've been coaching him since he was a child. He was very ordinary the first few years but as he got older, like lots of them, as he went into fifth and sixth class, he started to blossom into what we see today.

"Imagine to firstly make the cut for the minor panel and then to be on the first 15 in all games and playing well, he's getting good reviews and it's a credit to him, he's an all-round sportsperson."

After already triumphing on one stage, Mulkerrin bids to lead from the front as he vies for more All-Ireland honours in football's greatest arena.

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