Donnchadh Walsh happy to accept added responsibility
By Cian O'Connell
Donnchadh Walsh has spent a decade roaming the fields of the country in the famous green and gold jersey.
On Sunday, though, relief proved to be the overriding emotion for Walsh leaving Cusack Park in Ennis.
A pumped up Clare outfit had caused Kerry problems during a frenetic first half in which Walsh was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Watching on after the restart was difficult for Walsh, who acknowledged that it was tough at the interval as he watched Kerry prepare to do battle without.
"I was very disappointed at the time, but I was kind of having flashbacks of maybe 25 years previous to ‘92 when Clare last beat Kerry," Walsh says.
"I soon refocused myself and said ‘how can I be a positive influence on this dressing room?’ Because obviously we needed to improve in the second half to win it.
"I quickly just said a quick word with myself and said look, it’s about the team winning and I just tried to contribute positively to the lads to help them some way to the performance. The performance they put in in the second-half was brilliant. We dug out a good win in the end."
Ultimately that was all that mattered for Kerry, who demonstrated a mixture of character and class to seize control.
"Absolutely it was difficult," Walsh admits. "Clare came out strong as well in the second-half and kicked two points and they hit the crossbar as well. They were unlucky to not get a goal or even a point out of it so we were backs to the walls but I think fellas really dug in.
"It was a great sign of fellas playing away from home and against the wind in that second-half being two points down, we dug out a result.
"We didn’t even fall over the line in the end we were kind of comfortable enough with a five or six point win at the end."
That was chiefly down to the splendid attacking excellence of James O'Donoghue, who contributed nine points during the success.
Last year O'Donoghue was ravaged by injuries, but Walsh is encouraged. "Absolutely James had a great game and we are delighted to have James back," Walsh states.
"Flying fit and he was looking sharp in the second-half the last day so hopefully James will be able to push on then from that.
"We obviously saw the best of him last Sunday and that’s great when he produces the stuff on the Championship day.
"We have had a big break there since the League win and there was a lot of club games and county Championship games going on.
"Obviously I didn’t get to see James play with his club, but the word was that he was going well or moving well. He’s been moving well at training then so is he back to his best? I think he can probably be even better this year hopefully.
"James is an exciting player. He needs the rub of the green as well like with injuries. He’s only as good as we can make him with the quality of ball that he gets. The better James O’Donoghue is playing, the better the outfield players are getting ball to him so it works both ways."
With Aidan O'Mahony, Marc O Se, and Colm Cooper retired, Walsh is delighted to embrace the increased responsibility that arrives with being an experienced and established member of the Kerry panel.
"Every year and every game you grow in maturity and you have certain kind of understanding or reading of the game, reading of training sessions so I mightn’t be the loudest member of the dressing room, but I tend to just give my encouragement where I think it’s needed to players around me," Walsh remarks.
"But that comes from it being my 10th year involved in Kerry so that experience is good.
"It gives you confidence that you’ve been there and done that and sport can be a big confidence thing at the end of the day."