Kanturk v St. Patrick's Ballyragget - AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final

4 February 2018; Aidan Walsh of Kanturk celebrates with the cup after the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final match between Kanturk and St. Patrick's Ballyragget at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Agony followed by ecstasy for Kanturk's Aidan Walsh

By John Harrington

Kanturk's Aidan Walsh endured a painful mixture of physical and mental torture during the closing minutes of Sunday’s dramatic AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final win over Ballyragget.

A dislocated shoulder had forced him off late in the game and he watched the final dramatic few minutes on TV in the medical room while a doctor struggled to get his arm back into its socket.

But, as bad as that pain was, being powerless to help his team-mates in the dying minutes of a game that swung this way and that before Kanturk hit an injury-time winner was even harder to take.

“I popped the shoulder and I was lucky enough when I went into the medical room they popped it back in,” Walsh told GAA.ie after the match.

“I was watching the last few minutes on a TV. Jesus, the emotion, what a way to win it.

“It's been the same story all year long. Just a never say die attitude. Unbelievable.

“When the final whistle it still hadn't gone back in, but I was like, 'leave me go', I just wanted to get back onto the field and celebrate with the lads.

“They just pulled as hard as they could and it just popped back in, thanks be to God.

“When it's out like that all the ligaments are being pulled so it's desperate pain altogether.

“Thankfully it's back in now so I can enjoy the celebrations some bit anyway.”

Walsh has experienced a lot of big days over the course of his career.

He’s won one All-Ireland Senior Football title, two Munster Senior Football titles, one Munster Senior Hurling title, two National Football Leagues, and two football All-Star awards.

Kanturk players and management celebrate after the their AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final victory over Ballyragget.
Kanturk players and management celebrate after the their AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final victory over Ballyragget.

But he was in no doubt after the match that Kanturk’s victory over Ballyragget topped the lot.

“This is beyond everything else,” he said. “The father is a selector, my brother Tommy did the hurleys and water today.  Like, you can't beat that.

“I was lucky enough to have an All-Ireland medal with the Cork senior footballers, but this tops it by a mile. It's not ideal the way it finished for me personally, but we got over the line and that's all that matters at the end of the day.

“I'm just looking forward to the next few days now. If you're free, I'd advise you to come to Kanturk! It's going to be unbelievable!

“We all just want to get back on the bus and get down there as fast as possible because these days don't come around too often. It's been a massive year, this is our fourth trophy.

“If you told us at the start of the year that we'd win one, we'd have bitten your arm off because we had a bad year last year.

“What's after happening this year is just frightening, it's unbelievable. But it's only the start of it too, because our average age is only 24 or 25 so it's a fierce young team.”

It says a lot of the sort of driven person that Walsh is that a few minutes after Sunday’s Final and with his arm in a sling, he was already thinking about other goals he wants to achieve with his club.

“We have to keep our heads and keep at it and keep working hard,” he said.

“We're up senior now, the first Duhallow team to ever go senior, which is a great achievement in itself, but we don't want to go up there and just be a team happy to be there.

“We want to compete and see if we can push on and really see what we can do. That's the next challenge for us.

“We have a local derby in Newtownshandrum in the first round of the senior hurling championship.

“We'll enjoy the next few days, but we'll put the head down again for senior hurling because that's a massive challenge again for us and something we're really looking forward to.

“Senior hurling is what every club strives for, and we're lucky enough that we’ve gotten the opportunity, so we're going to give it a good go.”