Cork’s Aidan Walsh chooses hurling over football

Serving both codes at intercounty level no longer an option for versatile Rebel star

Aidan Walsh: will be  Ireland vice-captain for the International Rules Series against Australia but will then concentrate on hurling for Cork.  Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Aidan Walsh: will be Ireland vice-captain for the International Rules Series against Australia but will then concentrate on hurling for Cork. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

 

Confirmation that Aidan Walsh has quit football to concentrate on hurling for Cork immediately switches the focus to the futures of Damien Cahalane and Eoin Cadogan.

Local reporting from the Rebel County indicates Cahalane will also be honing his small ball skills this winter. Cadogan, whose younger brother Alan nailed down a starting role in Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s hurling team this season, has yet to indicate which code he is leaning towards.

Barry-Murphy and football counterpart Brian Cuthbert have agreed the player-sharing project was not workable.

“Yeah, we tried that and came to a decision that won’t be happening next year,” said Cuthbert yesterday. “It’s up to each guy now to decide.

“It was very disappointing to lose Aidan. He was young player of the year in 2010, an All Star twice and won an All-Ireland medal. Of our group he is one of the more experienced guys.

“Having said that, having a guy at 50 per cent or 100 percent it is a no-brainer. We tried it. At least we tried it.

Very difficult

Tipperary

Similar to the way a versatile dual Dublin player often ultimately shuns hurling – ala Rory O’Carroll and Tomás Brady – Cuthbert is aware a similar type of disadvantage now faces Cork football.

“It is very difficult to play both sports but it depends on the guy himself. In Aidan’s case he has achieved a lot in football. He has chosen the hurling incentives and is going down that path.

“At minor level I think it is fine to play both codes. There has always been a tradition in Cork if the guy is good enough he will be facilitated. I think that will always be the way.”

The same applies at the under-21 grade as the competitions are played at different times.

Walsh, speaking on 96FM, talked about the stress associated with rerouting his sporting career: “In fairness my head has been wrecked the last few weeks, but I’ve come to the decision that I’ll probably have a cut off the hurling this year,” said Walsh.

“I suppose being with the footballers now the last few years and last year trying to do the dual, I just feel that I could prove something in the hurling in the coming year.

“It was a very, very hard decision to make but I’m kind of happy now that it’s over with.

“I’m just looking forward to getting the head down and just getting into the alley now for the winter and hitting the ball off the wall and getting as much hurling as I can in to try to improve.

“Last year, looking back at it, there’s a lot of areas that I have to improve on. And hopefully, now I can focus on it 100 per cent, there’ll be massive improvements. But no, it’s done with now. That’s it.”

Walsh’s last act with the big ball, for the foreseeable future anyway, will be for Ireland against Australia in the International Rules test match next month in Perth.

Walsh, who has been named vice-captain of the Ireland International Rules squad which will travel to Australia next month, said Brian Cuthbert was understanding of his decision.

“I told (Cuthbert) maybe down the line I’d get the opportunity to play under him again and left it at that,” the 24-year -old added.

The next task for the Cork hurlers is to find a trainer to replace Kieran Kingston, who stepped down recently citing work commitments.

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