Adrian Mullen is about to have a busy week. On Sunday, he will be part of a Ballyhale team aiming to be crowned Ireland's top hurling club for the third time in five seasons when they face Antrim and Ulster champions Dunloy at Croke Park. Just a few days later, he hopes to line out for DCU against Mary Immaculate College in their opening fixture of this year's Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup.
"I’ll be able to play all right, yeah," says Mullen about the latter fixture.
"I’ll concentrate on the All-Ireland first and all going well, I’d love to be able to play that if I come out injury free from the All-Ireland. That’s the plan, to play that three days after the All-Ireland.
"Both sets of management are communicating. The DCU lads said to train away with Ballyhale and they don’t want to see me until the club campaign is over. They’ve been sound that way. Look, once I’m getting the training in I think that’s the best way.
"The Fitzgibbon is a hugely enjoyable experience and something I love being involved in as a player. You get to play with players that you’re probably playing against most of the time and it’s definitely something special to be involved in. It’s a tricky one to handle but I suppose it’s possible to handle in the right way. You probably just need good communication between the managers and the players for all the teams you’re involved in."
In December's All-Ireland semi-final, Ballyhale jumped the Ballygunner hurdle which had dramatically tripped them in the final moments of last year's final.
"What was motivating us was getting back to an All-Ireland final," says Mullen about the three-point victory.
"Thankfully we did that. We lost a couple of lads early on in that game. People were saying Ballygunner's panel was probably stronger than ours so that was satisfying for those lads to come in and do a job for us. We were happy getting over that.
"[The younger players have] brought a bit of freshness as well. And a bit of competition in the panel as well. And that will drive on the rest of the lads as well because you probably have three or four lads fighting for the same position, so that drive on the standards in training. You have to be at your best to nail down the position."
Those new players are not much younger than Mullen. Though at 23, he already has vast experience. This season will be his fifth at senior inter-county level.
"I wouldn't say I'm trying to do anything extra," he says.
"I'm just myself and whatever qualities I have I'll bring to the dressing room or the pitch and look hopefully other lads can benefit off those. I'm not going to try and be someone who I'm not.
"You definitely feel the nerves and pressure, but to be honest I think that's a good thing. I think when you're feeling those nerves and pressure before it, that suggests it really means something to you. And you'll give it your all to get over the line. So I accept those nerves and pressures, and meet them head on."
Following October's Kilkenny SHC final victory against James Stephens, Ballyhale's fifth consecutive championship title, players celebrated on the pitch with a poster displaying the images of five men - Eoin Doyle, Eugene Aylward, Paul Shefflin, Bobby Aylward and Patrick Holden - the club and community had lost in recent years. It also featured the words family, community, together, friends, and club.
"We've lost a few soldiers along the way over the last few years," says Mullen.
"They definitely motivate you on the pitch. We see after winning, the happiness that it brings those families, the whole community, the teammates, the people who are related to those people on the team. It's just about bringing a bit of joy to them, seeing a smile on their face. It's really rewarding, and it does motivate us.
"In the good and bad times, we come together as a club. It makes you stronger as a club, as a community. That's what we do on the pitch, we come together. Whatever challenge or obstacle is in front of us, we'll try to overcome it together. If we come out on the right side of it, that's a good thing; if we come out on the wrong side of it, we'll regroup, come together, and accept that result as a team."