Grace Walsh thankful that camogie was there for her and Kilkenny during testing times

Defender believes speech by coach Tommy Shefflin after the death of his brother was turning point in season

Grace Walsh says the struggles of life for many people over the last number of years have heightened the realisation of how lucky she is to be able to play camogie.

Walsh, who works as a nurse at St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin, was a central player in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland senior camogie success this season. However, it wasn’t a season without its challenges or tragedies.

Paul Shefflin, brother of Kilkenny camogie coach Tommy, passed away in March and just three weeks later manager Brian Dowling’s uncles, Oliver and Dominic Brennan, were caught in a house fire during which Oliver died.

Aoife Prendergast and Ciara Phelan also lost grandparents during the year, while the Cats suffered a litany of injuries, including cruciate blows to sisters Kellyann and Aoife Doyle.


“It’s something since Covid that I definitely realised on a personal note, how privileged we are to get to play the game and do something that we love,” said Walsh.

“I think with deaths, and injuries that were putting girls out for the year, we were making the most of every session we had and I suppose just pushing each other on.

“Tommy had a tough time losing his brother, Paul. That hit our whole team pretty hard. We were trying to be there for him and to support him as much as possible.

“He came into the dressingroom I think it was late April and he just spoke to us. He speaks a lot and you always listen to him but this time it was completely different. It really came from the heart and probably the hurt that they were after going through as a family. For me I think that was a turning point, the night that he spoke to us in the dressingroom.”

Due to a combination of injuries and retirements Walsh found herself playing in the Kilkenny defence during the summer and it was a role she adapted to brilliantly, so much so that she has been nominated for an All Star at full back.

She has also taken a keen interest in the fortunes of the Ireland women’s football team recently, having lived with Chloe Mustaki and Ciara Grant during their days in UCD.

“Chloe has been through the mill, she’s been through a serious hard time in the past being sick and then she did her cruciate.

“When I lived with her that time I could see the hard work and the dreams that she had and what she was willing to do to get to it. I saw her after the final whistle and the tears were just flowing out of her eyes, and you could just tell how special it was to her.”

– Walsh has teamed up with Warriors For Humanity, the GPA and Self Help Africa for the launch of the Plant For The Planet Games.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times