All-star Power mans an assembly line of future Cat stars
John Power was born in 1966 and played hurling with Kilkenny from 1986 to 2002.
His hurling career with Kilkenny began in 1986 at a time when, unfortunately for him, the inter-county hurling team was in the doldrums. He won Leinster Championship honours with Kilkenny for the first time that year, later adding another provincial title to his collection in 1987.
Power won his third Leinster medal in 1991, but ended up on the losing side in the All-Ireland hurling final when the Cats were defeated by Tipperary. The sporting gods were kinder to him in the next two seasons, when in 1992 and 1993 Power won All-Ireland medals with Kilkenny, as well as two All-star awards. He won another Leinster title in 1998, the first of five in-a-row, before claiming two more All-Ireland medals in 2000 and 2002, when he retired from inter-county hurling.
While John has many accolades, he is still a loyal club man at heart. These days he still togs out with his local John Lockes hurling team as well as training the juvenile under-12 boys' team at the club.
When you first speak to John you can't help but like him, his playful banter is infectious and his passion for the game he dedicated years to is still evident. John is first and foremost a family man with four children and works as a farmer. However, he credits hurling for his social outlet and for meeting his wife Margaret.
“'I played on the under-21 team with Margaret's brother John O'Keeffe," he said. "Sure she was always around herself - she's big into sports. We fell in love, and the rest is history. She's a wonderful woman and we are very lucky to have such a great family.”
However, prior to domestic bliss at times John found his job as a farmer quite lonely.
“You could work any hours as a farmer and most of time it's alone, so if you had training that evening you worked your daily life around it,” he said. “You went through the routine of getting your kit ready and togging out, but I suppose without the outlet of the GAA it would have been very lonely.”
While many people may think winning two All-Stars were some of John's happiest memories of the sport this isn't the case.
“Don't get me wrong, I was very proud to win them but they were more of an individual award," he said. "My favourite memories of hurling are training up in Nowlan Park for the county team, going to Langtons for a meal after with the lads - they used to joke that I couldn't shut up talking; I'd often keep the lads bantering til ten or eleven at night!
"I have certainly made solid friendships from playing, not just from John Lockes but across the county,” he said. “That's the beauty of sport.”
John, aside from still togging out with John Lockes, takes up his role as juvenile coach of the club's under-12 team.
"I enjoy it a lot," he said. "I had the young lads from under-eight and now they are under-12. First we teach them the basic skills of the game and then respect and discipline, which is very important. If you don't teach them at a young age the respect may not be as evident. Mostly though I teach them to enjoy it. It's also important for them to join young, as sometimes going into a dressing room and togging out at 16 if you're not used to it can be daunting and some players may be shy, whereas if they are used to it then it's not so scary.”
John's twin boys Sean and James (who are 12) play the sport, but are not under any added pressure from their father.
“I tell them to go with the flow,” he said. “I don't let them feel pressured and I certainly wouldn't want people to put that expectation on them because I'm their father, regardless of how good they are. At the end of the day once they enjoy it that's the main thing.”
However, since he started John has seen many changes in the game of hurling.
“It's a much faster game now,” he said. “The training and fitness level have gone up. There are different training schedules, and it has become more structured. I would encourage everyone to take up a sport and meet new people, a day can be very long without one.”
After our interview I'm not surprised many people credited John Power as having such a huge impact on the game of hurling. Known for his on-field encouragement of his fellow players, now he's helping the future generation in the same tradition. A devoted family man, dedicated trainer and all-round genuine man.