The bunting is flying high, the jerseys are washed and ready, and in villages and towns throughout Waterford and Galway fans of every age are getting ready to make one final trip to Croker for this year’s Senior All-Ireland Hurling Final. Ahead of the big match we spoke to Littlewoods Ireland Style Ambassador and Waterford’s All Star full forward Austin Gleeson, to find out how he is feeling ahead of the most anticipated final in years.
There’s less than a week to go to the big day, how are you feeling?
Austin Gleeson: “I’m feeling good. The colour around the county – there literally is blue and white everywhere, the atmosphere too – it’s unreal and everyone you meet wishes you well. Myself and Tadgh de Burca were visiting summer camps last week and the excitement especially among the kids is absolutely amazing.”
You’re a hero to many of those kids, who was your hurling hero when you were young?
Austin Gleeson: “The teams in 2002, 2007 and 2008 have been huge inspirations to me. Players like Ken McGrath and Brick Walsh stand out to me as they were gutsy players who oozed Deise spirit and determination, so I suppose while I hugely admire the entire teams from those years those two players in particular were the ones I looked up to as a kid.”
How are you finding the mental preparation ahead of the match?
Austin Gleeson: “Mental preparation can be tough but at the end of the day it’s all about staying focused and thinking about what motivates you. I think of my family, Mount Sion – the things that have always spurred me on to be the best I can be, and they’ll be my drivers to perform well on the day. I’m lucky enough to have an All-Ireland Minors and Under 21 medal so of course the dream is to take the big one and bring home a senior All-Ireland medal next Sunday.
“Of course I’m excited, but you need to protect yourself from the hype because at the end of the day you have to remain focused if you want to perform within that 70 minutes.”
Littlewoods Ireland are proud sponsors of the GAA Senior Hurling Championship.