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7 things to know about Kilkenny's Padraig Walsh aka Tommy's younger brother

The Tullaroan youngster caught they eye as one of the best players during the league.

Tommy Walsh before the league semi-final against Galway. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Growing up in the brother’s shadow

Having an older brother who won eight All-Ireland senior hurling medals and nine Allstar awards, meant Padraig did not have to look far for hurling role models. They’re now competitors for a place on the Kilkenny team but Tommy has played a key role in the younger Tullaroan player’s development.

“You’d hear the tag (Tommy’s brother) that bit alright but you just try not to listen to it. We’d talk a bit after games. I’ve watched him coming up since I was very young. It’s always the thing you aspire to – to try to get on the Kilkenny team.

“We have a big back garden and there’s a lot of neighbours and cousins all around who’d come up and we’d play matches against each other. It used to get very competitive. There were a fair few rows in it!”

2. Making the senior breakthrough

2014 has seen Walsh junior step forward and announce himself on the senior stage. During Kilkenny’s league-winning campaign, he started in seven of their eight games and came on as a substitute against Dublin on St Patrick’s weekend.

He demonstrated a scoring streak as he weighed in with 0-14 during the league. Padraig primarily played at midfield but did also start at wing-back against Galway in the league semi-final.

“From the very first game they started trying out new players so you knew then that if you went well you were going to get a chance. With Kilkenny, you have to try to take it. Brian has always stressed that we always need a strong panel more than a strong team.”

Padraig Walsh 4/5/2014 Padraig Walsh was on Kilkenny's league final winning team. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. Days at minor and U21 level

Walsh bowed out of the minor grade on a winning note when Kilkenny defeated Clare in the 2010 All-Ireland final by 2-10 to 0-14. He entered the U21 grade but endured a fruitless three-year spell.

“We got knocked out in the first round in my first year so we had most of the summer off. Then in 2012 we got to the All-Ireland final and we got beaten in that (by Clare). Last year we got knocked out in the Leinster final. It was disappointing not to win an All-Ireland, it’s a long time since I won a medal with Kilkenny.”

Kilkenny players celebrate with the trophy Celebration time for Kilkenny's players after the 2010 All Ireland minor decider. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. Banner envy

That Clare minor side that Walsh and his Kilkenny teammates conquered in 2010 have gone on to bigger and better things. Tony Kelly, Podge Collins and Colm Galvin are all now household names. Walsh has just completed his studies in UL and played Fitzgibbon Cup hurling alongside the likes of Collins and Conor Ryan.

“Obviously they’ve been very successful. They’ve built on 2010 and you’ve seen last year a lot of them were on that senior team. You have to hand it to them. They’re the team you have to look to beat now this year.”

5. Playing alongside heroes

For 22 year-old Walsh, his formative hurling years were spent watching golden days for Kilkenny hurling. To be rubbing shoulders with those he roared on from the terraces left him awestruck initially.

I would have looked at them all, the likes of JJ and Henry and Brian Hogan and all these lads. I would have always aspired to be like them growing up. When I went in first I was a bit shell shocked alright, seeing all these lads in the dressing-room.

“But when you go out on the training field, they’re very welcoming and they talk to you as if you’ve been there for years. You’re treated the same as anyone else.”

6. Bainisteoir Cody

Falling under the guidance of an iconic manager in Brian Cody took some adjustment as well.

“Obviously it’s very nervous when you come in first. But Brian treats you the same as he treats everyone else. If you’re going well, he’ll pick you on form. He’ll give you his chance.”

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

7. A day of hurling and camogie league final glory

Padraig may have won a hurling league final medal earlier this month but it wasn’t the only triumph his family experienced that day. His sister Grace also claimed a league camogie medal earlier that same afternoon when Kilkenny overcame Clare in the decider in Thurles.

“Yeah, Grace is with the camogie. Obviously we haven’t seen much of her this year because their games are on the same time as us. So we didn’t get to see much.

“But they’re coming on. They’ve a young team and hopefully last year will stand to them. They’re going well so far.”

Walsh family Padraig Walsh (left) with his brother Tommy and sister Grace.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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