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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Mannions seek to share September dream

Galway's Cathal Mannion
Galway's Cathal Mannion

Brothers in arms, siblings almost separated by the cruel twist of injury fate.

Cathal Mannion made his summer baptism with Galway in 2014, while still a teenager.

Pádraic is 19 months older but didn't make the championship cut until the following summer, when Galway journeyed all the way to September only to falter once Kilkenny turned up the second half heat.

Now the two Mannions are back in another All-Ireland final, against Waterford this Sunday: Pádraic on the right flank of a dominant half-back line, Cathal in the forwards.

But why the comparatively late breakthrough?

"I played minor in 2011," explains Pádraic, part of the team that overwhelmed Dublin in that year's final, "and was on the U21 panel in 2012.

"At the end of that year I had a prolapsed disc in my back. It was just misdiagnosed and I didn't really know what it was for a long time, so it slowed down the recovery."

It meant 2013 was a virtual write-off. He played club championship in 2014 but would have to wait another year for his senior breakthrough in maroon. "I missed probably two years of hurling opportunity with Galway where I could have been involved, maybe with an U21 panel," he explains.

Massive

"But I worked then Dave Hanley, our current physio, and he was a massive help and got me back."

He has already shared the September stage with his brother; now the challenge is to sup from the same Liam MacCarthy Cup.

"It's something that we probably always dreamed about when we were growing up … I don't know did we ever think it would actually happen," the older brother says.

"As for me and Cathal, when we go training we're just two players - you wouldn't really see him as a brother when you're out training, you wouldn't be holding back or anything if you happened to be marking him. For the parents especially, I'm sure it will be a proud day."

But also a poignant day for Ahascragh-Fohenagh, who were managed this season by Tony Keady until the legendary centre-back's sudden and so untimely death last month.

"It brought us back down to earth fairly quick after the high of the semi-final against Tipp," says Pádraic.

"He left the jersey in a great place, and that's definitely something we're trying to do now. Tony and his family will definitely be on our minds when we take to the field on the third."

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