This is the best feeling I've ever had in my life - Mahony
Philip Mahony has echoed his colleague Stephen O'Keeffe's sentiment that winning Sunday's Munster senior club hurling title with Ballygunner represents the best moment in his career.
After so much disappointment in recent seasons, failing to turn any one of their previous four Waterford titles into something more tangible at provincial level, Ballygunner took a giant step on Sunday by avenging the 2015 and 2017 defeats by Na Piarsaigh.
Their steely determination to prevent a third defeat to the Limerick kingpins was evident in the exchanges as they came from five points down early on.
Mahony, magnificent at the heart of the Ballygunner defence, said the determination to return was sown leaving Thurles after last year's defeat.
"I've won seven Waterford championships, and every year people inside and outside Waterford question if we can do it or not," he said.
"Last year we went three points up just after half-time, we possibly got white-line fever.
"We made sure we learned a lesson from that. We took all the emotion out of it in terms of the build-up, what we wanted to do on the field," he said.
"Take every single minute as it came. That's what we did. We did a lot of work, a lot of visualisation.
"Trying to get right back to where we wanted to be. To be in that situation this year, we drove it on.
"We probably got a fortuitous goal (brother Pauric's effort from a long-range free) that put a little bit of a buffer between us," he admitted.
"If you knew how much I thought about winning this for the last 10 years, you'd probably say I wasn't normal," he continued.
"One thing we were always told when we were young is the easiest thing in life to do is give up.
"In the last five years we came back every year and we worked harder and harder, even when we thought we couldn't work any harder.
"We managed to try and eke out another one or two per cent, and we got over the line and it's the best feeling I've ever had in my life anyway."
Ballygunner had lost eight of their previous nine Munster club finals, including the last four since their only win in 2001, so this was long overdue.
Mahony feels that no team could have worked as hard to win a provincial title as they did.
"I remember back in 2009, when I was 18 on the panel against Newtownshandrum, we got into a position towards the end of the game where we could have won it.
"Again at the time, I thought we'd a very young team, a lot of success underage, and it might get a little bit easier.
"I don't think there has ever been a team that has had to work as hard to win a provincial championship as we have. Seeing all the people around here today, how happy they are. I saw David O'Sullivan afterwards, one of my best friends, who fought tooth and nail for years. This is for the likes of him. It's a special moment."
Mahony says people in Waterford even underestimate how close they are as a group.
"For the last three or four months, we have been living out of each other's pockets.
"I just can't wait for this winter because there have been so many years where we've been... I've been beating myself up about a ball in last year's final, myself and Ian Kenny came out to it, the two of us hesitated and they got a goal from it.
"That's been chewing away at us for the last 12 months."