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Monday 10 December 2018

Malone relishing life under 'hurling mad' Kenny​

Jake Malone at the National Sports Campus to launch AIG’s ‘try before you buy’ SmartLane driving app
Jake Malone at the National Sports Campus to launch AIG’s ‘try before you buy’ SmartLane driving app

Jake Malone is asked to use one word that encapsulates Mattie Kenny, Dublin's new hurling manager.

He takes a second to ponder and then nails it: "I'd say obsessive. Everything he does is looking to build on the last training session, or the last meeting. No matter what it is, it's 1 per cent (more) every single training.

"You'll have him on the phone after every single session. The Cuala lads will tell you after every training he'll have ten lads on the phone talking to us about how training went. He's just hurling mad," he concludes. "He'll have us in the best position come league, come championship."

And maybe even the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup, in which Dublin open their campaign against Carlow in Netwatch Cullen Park next Tuesday night (7.45).

For Malone it's a rare chance to make an early-season impression. He is setting out on his third senior campaign, under his third different manager - but a very familiar one at that.

Kenny was his club boss as Cuala blazed a back-to-back All-Ireland glory trail in 2017 and '18; so it's fair to surmise that when he talks of the Galwegian's obsessive streak, he is speaking from experience.

Those experiences include the Dalkey men's journey to the Armagh Athletic Grounds for their 2017 All-Ireland semi-final against Slaughtneil of Derry.

"He had back-up cars driving half an hour behind (the bus), just in case anything did happen. That kind of level of detail is what he brings to the panel. I'd expect much of the same this year," Malone explains.

Challenge

You might ask how often does a bus break down, but this had previously happened en route to a challenge match.

"So for the Slaughtneil game," Malone expands, "we had a different bus and bus driver, because of the one that had broken down the week before."

The 22-year-old was a championship ever-present last summer under Pat Gilroy, having first broken onto the panel in Ger Cunningham's ill-fated swansong season.

To play under Kenny "makes it easier in a way, it's probably not as scary as when you come in with new management and you have to impress 24/7, have the best training all the time," he says, speaking at yesterday's launch of AIG's 'try before you buy' SmartLane driving app.

"Like, last week there I wasn't able to go to one of the trainings because I was working and it's a little bit easier having that conversation ... but I'm not going to be getting any favours in a couple of months down the line either."

History

Malone was first introduced to Kenny's senior Cuala set-up, along with Con O'Callaghan, when both were minors in 2013. The rest is history.

"Mattie was training us the exact way we were getting trained at inter-county level," he recounts.

"It was to the highest level of professionalism, we had everything down to the last 'T' set out, we had our analysis done, our training blocks done, every little bit of information that was needed was given to us.

"So obviously he'll now get the resources available to him to do that at inter-county level as well.

"It'll be very interesting to see how it goes next year," concludes Malone.

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