Walsh no stranger to Cody's ability to deliver the unexpected

Kilkenny forward relieved to be injury-free as All-Ireland final looms on the horizon

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh in action against Limerick’s  Dan Morrissey at Croke Park. “Limerick are such a physical team and they have huge work-rate so we knew the effort was going to have to be massive.”  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh in action against Limerick’s Dan Morrissey at Croke Park. “Limerick are such a physical team and they have huge work-rate so we knew the effort was going to have to be massive.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Walter Walsh is no stranger to Brian Cody’s mastery of delivering the unexpected. His senior inter-county career began with a typical selection coup by the Kilkenny manager before the 2012 All-Ireland final replay when Walsh was called up to make his debut against Galway.

He scored 1-3 from play, which won him the Man of the Match award, as Kilkenny romped to a big win over the team that had beaten them in the Leinster final.

This season has been disrupted with injury but the big Tullogher Rosbercon forward has only been forced out of one match in which he was badly missed, the home defeat by Galway in June’s Leinster championship.

“That’s the way it was with my ankle injury,” he says. “You’re pushing to get back and thank God now it’s been great for the last month. Staying injury free is really important because there’s so many games. That’s just key for everyone.”

A sense of what he brings to the team was evident in the All-Ireland quarter-final win against Cork when, introduced as a replacement at half-time, he fired over three points, as Kilkenny overwhelmed their opponents in the second half.

Saturday’s shock victory over Limerick was effectively decided by Kilkenny’s rampant opening quarter in the course of which Walsh scored two points, establishing what cricketers might call a good first-innings lead, which the champions were never able to catch.

Whereas final opponents Tipperary were on everyone’s radar after a storming round-robin provincial championship, Kilkenny’s incremental improvement, as key players returned from injuries, has pushed them to the forefront of a year that had been widely written off as part of a rebuilding process. Instead they’re back in the final for the first time since losing to Tipp in 2016.

Special thing

“Yeah, I was only chatting to one of the more experienced lads. When we came in first, it was nearly the norm. You nearly expected to be in an All-Ireland final. It makes you appreciate it more, definitely. When you’re not in one for three years, you’re – it’s not that we were less hungry for it or anything like that but it does make you realise what a special thing it is.”

The semi-final wasn’t won simply on the basis of a fast start. Limerick clawed back most of the deficit by the break. Did three points feel a bit tight at half-time?

“Yeah, it was a bit but I suppose before the game, you’d have taken a three-point lead at half-time in a heartbeat. We put a positive spin on it at half-time. We didn’t make it out to be a negative that they’d got a couple of scores to bring us back to three. We were still ahead and that was the main thing.

“We had a strong breeze in the first half and we were playing against it in the second but I think we managed that quite well. We worked extremely hard. Limerick are such a physical team and they have huge work-rate so we knew the effort was going to have to be massive and we knew how hard it was going to be to win the ball, never mind the match.”

So how does Brian Cody keep producing at this level?

“Ha! You’ll have to ask him that.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.