Cork dual player Aidan Walsh has announced that he will not continue to play football and hurling at intercounty level.
The All-Ireland football medallist and twice-decorated All Star lined up for the county hurlers as well this year and played a lead role in Cork's first Munster hurling title in eight years.
The season ended in disappointment with defeats by Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final and by Mayo in the football quarter-finals after one season as a dual player Walsh believes that it is impossible for a player to give 100 per cent in both games. He also felt that being a dual player heightened the chances of being made a scapegoat when things went wrong.
"I'd say I'll just try to focus on one of them," he said at yesterday's launch of the two-year commercial partnership between the GAA, GPA and Best Menswear.
“You can ask me the question: ‘which one will you play?’ but I don’t know yet. I’m weighing up the pros and cons of the whole thing because it’s a very hard decision to make, especially with Cork who are very strong in both of them [football and hurling].”
The Kanturk player said that he would have to make a decision in the next fortnight or so and pointed out that he has been part of the football panel for past five years and had built up friendships with the players but that equally his club-mates Anthony Nash and Lorcán McLoughlin were part of the hurling team.
Asked did he believe it was now impossible to play both games at an elite level, he replied: “I wouldn’t say it’s impossible but I would say it’s impossible to play both codes at 100 per cent so you’re not going to play at your full potential. That’s not possible in today’s game and the way it’s gone. At the start of the year I knew that was going to be the case: I wasn’t going to be 100 per cent at both of them.
“At the back of your mind you’re thinking the other players in the squad are saying, ‘how can this man do 50 per cent of the training and I do 100 per cent of the training and he’s on before me so there’s a bit of anger there.
"If I was in their position I'd be the same if a fella's coming in for half the session and getting on the team. All those things were part of it too but it's impossible to play 100 per cent at both." Having been facilitated by both football and hurling managers Brian Cuthbert and Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Walsh came to terms with his hurling during the league – he hadn't played intercounty since under-21 level – but his summer was complicated by Cork drawing their first Munster championship hurling match with Waterford and losing the provincial football final to Kerry.
This meant a number of unscheduled matches between the hurling replay and the diversion down the football qualifiers route. The player feels that the busy schedule took its toll.
“I suppose it was very difficult when it came to the All-Ireland series, especially when we won the Munster hurling and it was a massive high. Then I had to go back to the football. I played the Sligo game, I played the Mayo game and then I had two weeks to prepare for the Tipperary game.
“It’s not enough to prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final and my performance showed on the field
– I was lethargic and tired and I just wasn’t up to the pace of it. I’m not blaming that totally on the reason that I played badly, that I didn’t get enough preparation but it is certainly a factor in it.
“To put in such an effort all year and then leave yourself down on the big day with 70,000 people there and big, huge support from Cork was very disappointing. My response to that was ‘never again’. I’m not putting myself in that position again.
“I see that when we lost a game the first fellas to be blamed or to be mentioned were the dual players. Obviously we were some bit to fault but not the total reason. I just thought we were always the ones mentioned.”
Asked had he found the technical challenges of hurling particularly difficult, he said that his football had also suffered.
“It’s much of a muchness I suppose. The football is very difficult. When we played Mayo here, the ball was on the ground. Usually the ball kind of bounces and I was thinking will I put my toe under it or will I pick it up? I wasn’t used even to handling the ball. “I know hurling’s more technical with a small ball but you have a hurl. I found the football difficult as well for some reason even though I had been used to playing it all the time. I knew myself I wasn’t at the quality I was usually able to produce this year as opposed to other years.”
He has a couple of weeks to make up his mind. In the meantime Cork have yet to confirm their hurling management for 2015 and Walsh is busy training with the Ireland international rules squad of which he was vice-captain last year.