Mark Coleman, though still a teenager, has developed a penchant for making history.
On July 9 of last year, Coleman became the first Blarney hurler to see championship game-time for the Cork seniors.
On May 21 of this year, he became the first Blarney hurler to start a championship game for the Cork seniors. Yesterday morning, he became the first Blarney man to win an All-Star award.
The half-back enjoyed a near-perfect debut season as a first-team regular with Cork, starting and finishing the three games which swept the county to Munster championship glory.
There was also a man of the match award for his performance against the Déise in the provincial semi-final. And he wasn’t far off replicating this feat when turning in another confident display in the Munster decider against Clare.
Coleman did struggle early on against Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh in the All-Ireland semi-final and it was thought Tipperary’s Pádraic Maher might edge out the young Cork defender for the number seven All-Star slot. But with the selection committee ignoring positions and instead opting to select the top six defenders throughout Championship 2017, both Maher and Coleman made the final cut.
Blarney chairman Martin Lynch yesterday described Coleman’s selection as a “phenomenal achievement”, the 19-year-old celebrating the win by lending a hand at a mid-term hurling camp in neighbouring Ballincollig.
He is one of the county’s youngest ever All-Star recipients, though not quite as young as Brian Corcoran when the latter picked up his first trinket in 1992, also aged 19. Coleman is one of two Cork hurlers who’ll be honoured at this evening’s banquet in the capital, with Patrick Horgan garnering a second All-Star in attack.
“This time last year, we were just hoping that Mark might establish himself on the Cork team in 2017. To think he has done that and then added an All-Star is just unbelievable,” said Lynch.
“It is so exciting and we are so thrilled and delighted for Mark. It is a great honour for Mark, his parents, Ray and Anne, and the Blarney club.
“It is massive for Blarney, really. For this club to have someone of Mark’s calibre is brilliant in fostering the next generation of young Blarney hurlers. This is the guy they are looking up to and what a role model he is.”
The Cork defender, who is also nominated for young hurler of the year alongside Galway’s Conor Whelan and Conor Gleeson of Waterford, won many admirers throughout the summer.
Tony Browne sang his praises for the manner in which he played “natural wing-back hurling” during the Munster semi-final, with Ger Loughnane commenting that same afternoon: “Up until now, Blarney was known for a stone. Today, it produced a rock.”
Lynch said Coleman has earned every bit of success which has fallen his way.
“The primary reason Mark nailed down a place on the Cork team and the primary reason he has now won an All-Star is the hard work he puts in.
“His dedication is something else, he’s a different class. Mark is a man of few words, but many, many actions. He is a fantastic ambassador for this club. Anything we ask of him, he will always oblige. We’re so fortunate to have him. Everyone in Blarney is just so enamored by him.”
Lynch concluded: “Mark has had a fantastic year and has coped well with all the attention that has fallen his way. We must remember he is still very young (he turns 20 in December). We really hope Mark brings his good form into 2018 and beyond.”
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