'It’s great to be back contributing and to be playing with Kerry again'

Tommy Walsh is enjoying his return with the Kingdom after it looked like his inter-county career had ended.

Tommy Walsh in action for Kerry against Galway at the weekend.
Tommy Walsh in action for Kerry against Galway at the weekend.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

CELEBRATING HIS 31ST birthday today, Tommy Walsh may be one of the more experienced faces in the Kerry squad, but after a slower than expected return to form from the pro-ranks, he is pretty happy to be feeling his way back into the inter-county scene.

Walsh made his first start for Kerry since 2016 in their one-point win over Galway at the weekend, and after his Gaelic football career failed to ignite after a return from a professional AFL stint, the Kerins O’Rahilly’s man says he ecstatic to be back in contention again.

It’s great to be back. I’m happy to be out there again and contributing and that’s what I’m there for,” said Walsh, who had made two substitute appearances this season before Sunday’s Tuam Stadium clash.

“In a young team I am one of the older heads so I try to bring any bit of experience that I can. It’s great to be back contributing and to be playing with Kerry again.

“I didn’t wear the No 14 jersey much when Kieran Donaghy was there, but it’s nice when I get to wear it the odd time.”

Walsh failed to score for Kerry on Sunday, but he was influential in a forward line that at times struggled to break down Galway’s mass defence. He was a dangerous target man in the full-forward line, but also roamed deep, especially as an option for Shane Ryan’s kick-outs.

Stints with St Kilda and Sydney Swans in the Australian Rules game started in 2009 and ended in 2014, and after he struggled to re-acclimatise to his native game under Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Walsh is back in the side now under the guidance of Peter Keane.

He thinks they still have plenty of room for improvement though – despite four straight wins to start their league season.

Eoghan Kerin and Tommy Walsh exchange words during the game Walsh didn't score from play but played an influential role in Tuam Stadium. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I think we are happy enough with where we are, but we know there is a lot of work to do. We have four from four but we’re not looking past the next game,” he said.

“We have Monaghan in Killarney next week and that’s another big test. They have shown how strong they are against Tyrone and we’ll be solely focused on them and trying to get another two points. That’s what it’s all about and we’re not looking past that.

“There are a lot of things we can be better at though. You are never going to be happy with where you are. I suppose we still have to get a bit better defensively. Galway got a lot of bodies back against us and we have to work better at breaking that down. It’s about improving the small things all of the time.”

Their latest win in Tuam Stadium was remarkably like their victory over Dublin in Tralee, where Kerry squandered a lead, only to kick on to triumph in the closing stages.

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“Ideally you wouldn’t get into the situation when you are four or five points up to having to try and steal it at the end. The positive is that we were in that position and we did come out on top.

“I think towards the end you nearly would have taken a draw but to come back and to get the victory was huge for us, particularly having given away that goal, which we wouldn’t be too happy with. To bounce back like we did and get the victory was huge.

“It was just about the team really. We had guys contributing; everyone players their part. The guys who came of the bench, Tomás Ó Sé got the point at the end, Jonathan Lyne was really covering ground across the line, Mikey Geaney came on at half-time and did well.

“And that’s what you need, you have to have lads contributing off the bench and they were the guys who got us over the line.”

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