Kerry’s Donnchadh Walsh ‘good to go’ and clear on his role against Cork
‘It’s not a main aim for me to score, but it’s always a bonus’
Donnchadh Walsh (centre) lines out at left half forward for Kerry against Cork in Sunday’s Munster Senior Football final. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.
As someone who recently shifted careers from engineering to physiotherapy Donnchadh Walsh is well used to making switches. Only now, a few days shy of turning 30, Walsh is finding a more permanent position in the Kerry football team.
He’ll start at left half forward, wearing jersey number 12, for Sunday’s Munster football final against Cork, having spent much of his career shifting between various positions around Kerry’s forward line, or indeed positions on the substitutes’ bench. This, after all, is the player who made his debut in the 2003 league, didn’t feature again until 2007, then last summer helped Kerry very nearly topple Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Walsh didn’t start Kerry’s Munster semi-final win over Clare with a hamstring injury, but he did come off the bench at half-time (replacing Darran O’Sullivan). Indeed part of Walsh’s difficulty in nailing down a more permanent position in recent years has been injury, yet now more than ever it seems he is more confident of his abilities.
“I have my injuries done for the year now,” he says. “Straight through now until September, hopefully. I had a bit of a hamstring injury, just before the Clare game. I was good to go against Clare, although obviously not good enough for starting. But after coming on and getting through the game all is fine, and all good to go now.”
Exact roleGiven all this shifting about, however, Walsh could be forgiven for feeling a little uncertain about his exact role in the Kerry forward line: turns out he knows exactly what his role is.
“A lot depends on the opposition that you are playing against,” he says, “and the individual you are going to be marking as well. I think the modern wing forward still has to perform a number of roles in a game.
“Obviously, it’s not a main aim for me to score, but it’s always a bonus and it puts a wing back under pressure, if you are getting into scoring positions. Other than that then, there is the winning of breaking ball at midfield, providing outlets from the back, getting back and defending as well. And maybe popping up and getting a clean kick out as well.
“That’s most of what I’ve been doing for the last number of years. But I think one thing that has changed the game is the short kick out, which brings in more of a tactical awareness, and a reading of how the opposition are trying to set up attacks.”