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Ballygunner's Constant Evolution Drives Success On The Pitch

Ballygunner's Constant Evolution Drives Success On The Pitch

In mid-October, for the sixth year in a row, Ballygunner were crowned Waterford senior hurling champions. That is a feat, according to Shane O'Sullivan, which has been achieved by never standing still.

"It's a transition, an evolution, so it's fresh," said O'Sullivan.

"Even though we've won a number of county championships, not Munsters obviously, the team has transitioned every year from a positional sense and also from new personnel coming on board which gives the team a freshness.

"So it's not the same team that's winning for the last six years in the county, it's an evolution of players and I think that's really important for the longevity or sustainability of any team, whether it's business or a sports team."

Dessie Hutchinson has been the main addition to the mix this season. The 22-year-old finished life as a professional footballer with Brighton last year and returned home to play with Waterford for six months before packing soccer in for good.

Hutchinson - whose brothers Wayne and JJ also play for Ballygunner - has been a star for the club in their run to this weekend's Munster final against Tipp champions Borris-Ileigh. He scored 1-3 in the Waterford final against De La Salle and 0-5 versus Limerick champions Patrickswell in the Munster semi.

During the off-season with Brighton, while he was back home, Hutchinson would drop in to train with the club, and he'd puck about with the other Irish players on the beach in Brighton - those little flings with hurling made the transition back a little easier.

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Along with Hutchinson, Conor Sheahan and Paddy Leavy have also been important additions this campaign.

Borris-Ileigh and Tipperary hurler Brendan Maher, left, is pictured with Ballygunner and former Waterford hurler Shane O'Sullivan ahead of the AIB GAA Munster Senior Hurling Club Championship on Sunday November 24th at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"Media training - ye don't get into his head!" O'Sullivan joked when asked what Hutchinson has brought back from five years of professional sport.

"He just has a focus in training and he has an experience that's beyond his years - maybe as well because he's been over there.

"It's a tough game, living on your own away from your family, trying to make a career. It mightn't have the same spirit that a hurling club or football club would have.

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"To be honest we were wishing him the best [when he went over]. Anyone who wants to excel in sport, live a professional life and be the best they can be, we'd be all for it.

"We had Jack O'Donoghue who would have been a brilliant hurler, played for Munster Rugby and Ireland as well and a number of other players, some professional golfers that have played for the club.

"We're all about being the best you can be, we're not that small-minded that we try to stop that, we'd be all for it."

Top photo: Sportsfile

AIB is in its 29th year sponsoring the GAA Club Championship and is delighted to continue to support the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Championships across football, hurling and camogie. For exclusive content and behind the scenes action throughout the AIB GAA and Camogie Club Championships follow AIB GAA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

See Also: Corofin's Recipe For Success Is Pretty Simple

PJ Browne
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