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Mixed fortunes: St. Kilda's debut for Walsh while Kennelly sits out pre-season tournament

Former Kerry footballer named in St. Kilda’s squad ahead of next week’s NAB Cup while Kennelly is yet to return from injury.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

IRISH RECRUIT TOMMY WALSH looks set to finally make his Aussie Rules debut next week, fifteen months after being signed up by top AFL side St. Kilda’s.

The former Kerry football star has been named by coach Ross Lyon in the Saints squad for the league’s pre-season tournament, the NAB Cup. St. Kilda’s are scheduled to take on Essendon and the Brisbane Lions when the round robin stage of the competition kicks off next week.

Walsh spent last season working with Sandringham, the team’s junior affiliate in the Victorian Football League, aware that it would take time to learn the ropes of a new sport before making the progression to the first team.

In a statement released on the club website today, Lyon spoke very highly about Walsh’s development since joining the Melbourne outfit, hinting that there will be plenty of opportunities for the 22-year-old to make an impression next week.

[He will play at] full-back and forward. He is a key position player. He might not like hearing he’s going into the ruck but it’s an opportunity for him.

He came fourth or fifth in the Sandringham best and fairest [in 2010]. It’s a pretty high standard and to deliver on that has exceeded everyone’s expectation.

As suggested by TheScore last week, Walsh has benefited from the omission of a number of Saints first-teamers from next week’s squad following a series of pre-season controversies.

Zac Dawson, Rhys Stanley, Jack Steven and Paul Cahill have all been ruled out after the club found that they had misused alcohol and prescription drugs during a pre-season trip to New Zealand.

While Walsh gears up for his AFL debut, another Irish interest, Sydney Swans’ Tadhg Kennelly, has yet to recover from injury and will miss the NAB Cup opener.

Swans coach John Longmire, however, expects the Kerryman to be fit in time to compete in the tournament’s latter stages.

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Niall Kelly

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