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'We are the champs and we were coming up here to our own home patch'

Donnchadh Walsh and Kerry love playing at Croke Park.

Donnchadh Walsh kicks for goal against Tyrone on Sunday.
Donnchadh Walsh kicks for goal against Tyrone on Sunday.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THEY MIGHT BE putting in the hard slog in training at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney but according to tireless half-forward Donnchadh Walsh, Croke Park is Kerry’s “home patch.”

Walsh was superb in Sunday’s All-Ireland senior football semi-final victory over Tyrone, receiving the man-of-the-match accolade from Sky Sports, as RTÉ plumped for Johnny Buckley.

It appears that Cromane colossus Walsh is now finally getting the recognition that he deserves and another hard-working display on Sunday was capped with a point against the Red Hands.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio after the game, Walsh admitted that this one meant a lot to Kerry after big-game defeats against Tyrone in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

It was Kerry’s first championship victory over Tyrone at Croke Park since the 1986 All-Ireland final success.

Source: Bryansford Gael/YouTube

And for Walsh and his teammates, it was nice to buck the recent trend of defeats against Mickey Harte’s charges at GAA HQ.

“We knew it was going to be tough against Tyrone, the history is there,” Walsh said.

“The GAA has a funny way of replaying history over and over again.

“We had to make history today – they were one of the two teams that Kerry (this team) haven’t beaten at Croke Park and now that’s put to bed but I’m sure Tyrone people won’t be letting that to bed.

“We still haven’t beaten Down in Croke Park. This is a new Tyrone team, this is a new Kerry team. People were bringing up the history of the previous decade – we’re just absolutely delighted that we won.”

Kerry will regroup and get back down to business ahead of next month’s All-Ireland final against Dublin or Mayo.

But for now, Walsh is pleased that the Kingdom have managed to slay an old foe.

“We knew people would be talking about it (history) but we’re trying to block it out.

“People will talk about it now but this is a different team, that Tyrone team is a different team as well.

Donnchadh Walsh and Colm Cavanagh Donnchadh Walsh put in a massive shift against Tyrone on Sunday. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“A lot of this Tyrone team, we don’t really know much about them but if they won today, you’d be talking about them and they’d be in an All-Ireland final on merit.

“But this Kerry team, we’re a new team under Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

“We’re All-Ireland champs and we’re trying to create our own history.

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“It’s hard down in Kerry trying to create your own history because there’s so much history before you.

“But we like to back ourselves. We are the champs and we were coming up here to our home patch. We’re delighted to be in an another All-Ireland final.”

Walsh set the tone with his incredible work ethic and that graft was replicated all over the pitch by Kerry.

“There were a few moments in the game where they (Tyrone) rallied – and we knew they would,” Walsh added.

“Every time they turned over a ball, every time we missed a shot, every time they kicked a score they rallied and the crowd love that – that’s their oxygen.

“We tried not give them as much oxygen but it’s still hard enough to take it away.

“Paul Geaney made a massive difference, Johnny Buckley there and James (O’Donoghue) buzzing inside. Midfield did well and we snuffed them out in the end.”

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