It was a week when club loyalties - not to mention family limits - were tested, but in the end there was no danger of damaging a brotherly bond.
St Kieran’s College’s Darren Mullen was all smiles after his side secured All-Ireland glory, but he played down the notion of any friction the game may have caused as he faced his brother Kevin’s Kilkenny CBS.
“I didn’t think about it too much,” the young centre-back said, reflecting on the unique final pairing that saw brother take on brother in the All-Ireland colleges senior hurling final in Nowlan Park on Saturday.
“With everything that was going on around the game I tried to push it to one side and keep my focus on the match,” he added. “I didn’t want to get too nervous and let that affect how I played.”
It might have sounded strange, sharing a home with the opposition, but neither Darren (16) nor Kevin (17) saw it that way.
“It wasn’t any different from normal,” said Darren. “We took each day the same, even down to the morning of the match. Saturday was like a regular match-day for us. We carried on the same way.
“We came into Nowlan Park together with our father (Declan), before going our separate ways to join up with our teams,” he added. “We wished each other well before running out with the schools.”
In the end the meeting of the city sides (and the Ballyhale brothers) went St Kieran’s way on a 2-16 to 0-13 scoreline, It was a good day for the Saints, but they felt it was coming.
“We knew we had a game like that in us,” Mullen said. “We hadn’t performed that well all year - we nearly lost against Loughrea in the quarter-final - but winning that game gave us the belief and confidence that we could go on and win the All-Ireland final.”
They had to raise their game to see off the CBS, but a team chat at half-time saw to that.
“James Maher (Kieran’s captain) was just one of the players who stood up and asked ‘do we want this?’,” said Mullen.
Saturday evening would be as ever in the Mullen household!
“It won’t be awkward at home,” Darren assured. “Win or lose things will always be the same between us. Kevin wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re close as brothers so we’ll carry on the same as always.”