Tralee roots, professional sport in Oz, battling injuries, Cork workmates and back as a Kerry duo

David Moran and Tommy Walsh are back lining out together again.

Conor McAtamney with David Moran and Tommy Walsh Kerry's David Moran and Tommy Walsh in action against Derry's Conor McAtamney in the league earlier this year. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

DAVID MORAN AND Tommy Walsh spent five years in opposite hemispheres, their sporting lives played out in vastly different environments.

One an amateur Gaelic footballer on native soil, the other a professional Australian Rules player on foreign shores.

Their early careers had traveled the same road. Youngsters at Kerins O’Rahillys and sons of famous football fathers.

They met the expectations that a rich Kerry heritage demands – the midfield partnership for the 2006 All-Ireland minor final loss to Roscommon and vital components for the 2008 All-Ireland U21 winning side against Kildare.

Fintan Cregg 23/9/2006 David Moran going up against Roscommon's Fintan Cregg in the 2006 All-Ireland minor football final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

When Kerry lifted Sam in 2009, Walsh kicked 0-4 and it was Moran who replaced him in the 57th minute to help close out the game against Cork. When Walsh put ink to paper with St Kilda in 2009, their sporting landscapes shifted.

Barry John Walsh and his brother Tommy lift the Sam Maguire Tommy Walsh lifts Sam Maguire with his brother Barry John in 2009. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Yet even though they operated in different climates, they shared similar experiences in victories, defeats and those maddening injuries.

  • Rupturing the cruciate ligament.
  • Tearing a hamstring tearing off the bone.
  • Suffering a damaged retina.

But three weeks ago, they were back together in Croke Park with Walsh’s second-half introduction ensuring a Strand Road midfield would face down Kildare for the close of the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Anthony Maher and David Moran with Tommy Moolick David Moran rises high against Kildare's Tommy Moolick. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Obviously we’re very close and from a football point of view, it’s great to have him back in the Kerry jersey,” admits Moran.

“He’s a really exciting player for the rest of this year and the years ahead. (It’s) scary looking at him, I need to get in to the gym a bit more. It’s great to have him back from a personal point of view.”

They see plenty of each other off the pitch as well. Moran works with Ernst & Young in the transaction advisory service, Walsh is a trainee accountant with the same company since last February.

Based in Cork, they have plenty time to catch up on 170km round trips in the car on midweek nights to training in Killarney.

David Moran Kerry's David Moran Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I went from not seeing him at all to now he’s working in the same place as me as well so I’m sick of him already,” laughs Moran.

“It’s fantastic. We’d drive up and down to training together so it’s great.”

They could easily have ploughed the same sporting furrow between 2009 and 2014. Moran dabbled with the oval ball for a spell.

“In 2008 after we lost to Tyrone, the two of us were meant to go over to St Kilda but I didn’t go because I had exams.

“Tommy went out and they saw him and saw what shape he was in, so I think he had signed before he went out in 2009.

“I went out then in 2009, I was kind of on trial and he wasn’t. So I went out and gave it three weeks.

“I wasn’t good enough and didn’t get a contract so I came back. No regrets, I really enjoyed it.”

Tommy Walsh Tommy Walsh pictured training for St Kilda in 2009. Source: Getty Images/INPHO

Would Moran have been tempted to commit to the professional lifestyle?

“I think I would have. But I think when you’re in there, you’re in the bubble and you know everything is great and Tommy’s after signing.

“I came back, I played the Munster club final and drove on. We lost that, I kicked 8 wides, we lost by a point!”

Ian McInerney and David Moran David Moran in action against Kilmurry-Ibrickane in the 2009 AIB Munster senior club football final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

They’ve flipped Kerry roles now. In 2009 Walsh was an All-Ireland winning attacking totem, a year after being crowned Young Footballer of the Year while Moran was rooted to the bench.

This season Moran has imposed himself on the midfield stage after a towering 2014 campaign that featured Sam and an Allstar. Walsh has largely been kicking his heels for the summer.

“We’d talk bits and pieces maybe,” says Moran.

“It’s more reflective of 2009 where things were going so well for him and I was trying hard to get a game.

“There’s a lot of football to be played before the year is out and I’ve no doubt he’ll play a huge part like he did against Kildare.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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