What a wonderfully busy year Adrian Mullen has had to this point and there is still plenty more to play for.
Back in March, Mullen was instrumental as Ballyhale Shamrocks collected their seventh All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling title with the youngster named AIB Club Hurler of the Year shortly after their return to the top.
Following on from his club success, Mullen turned his attention to the inter-county scene where he has been playing and performing with distinction for both the Kilkenny U20s and the senior side.
Mullen admits it has been good having games come “thick and fast” but admits that he is still learning when it comes to getting to grips with senior inter-county hurling.
“It’s been good,” Mullen said at the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling All-Ireland U20 semi-final media day. It’s good to be busy, I suppose, and to have games coming thick and fast. It’s just getting from game to another and do what’s best for the team and work hard for the team. That’s all you can do.”
“I suppose it was hard in the first few games trying to adapt to it. But you learn something new from every game and every training session.
“You just try to get on as much ball as possible and you work for the team and stuff like that. You just have to do everything quicker.”
As is the case with most Kilkenny natives, Mullen comes from a family of hurling fanatics.
It’s easy to see why Mullen has made the transition from club hurler to senior inter-county look so seamless as he only has to pick up the phone and ring his multiple time All-Ireland winning cousins, Michael and Colin Fennelly, if he is ever in need of advice.
“I’ve three older brothers and then I’m the fourth (and one sister). They used to throw me around the place alright in the games out the back. They were fairly tough! We used to beat lumps out of each other!
“The uncles are obviously very involved in it and the Grandfather. Yeah, I suppose we never had to look too far for inspiration to pick up the hurl.
“Michael and Colin have been very good to me. Michael always gives advice and it’s good to have them there through the good and bad times.
“It’s just good to learn from them and see how they do things and then try to copy them.”
It’s not only his famous family who he can soak up information from.
Mullen’s current coaches at club and county just happen to be arguably the three biggest legends of Kilkenny hurling; Henry Shefflin (Ballyhale), Brian Cody (Kilkenny seniors) and DJ Carey (Kilkenny U20s).
According to the ace attacker, the three legends are different but harness the same principles.
“They’re different in ways but they have the same principles. Just to work hard and stuff like that. They’re different but they’re not different at the same time.
“They know what they’re talking about and they’re obviously great lads to learn from. That’s all you can do, learn from them, because they’ve been through it all.”
The 20-year-old has a first-ever senior All-Ireland final to look forward to but first, he’s the matter of an All-Ireland U20 semi-final this coming weekend.
Kilkenny face a tough Cork side who will be reeling from their last-gasp Munster final defeat to Tipperary last week and will be looking to make a statement. Mullen’s admits that they are expecting a big challenge this weekend.
“Cork are obviously a very good team. They were favourites for the minor (two years ago) and probably are favourites for this Championship as well. We know they have great players in Brian Turnbull and (Robert) Downey and those lads.”
“We’ll be expecting a big challenge for them.”