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Saturday 27 February 2021
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'I’ll stay going, my ambition is 40' - club career, Taggy on Dancing With The Stars and Leinster format

Tommy Walsh aims to keep going with Tullaoran after January’s All-Ireland club success.

Kilkenny hurler Tommy Walsh
Kilkenny hurler Tommy Walsh
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

EVEN AFTER A glittering career in Kilkenny colours, packed with team and individual successes, Tommy Walsh got to savour another moment of All-Ireland glory.

He achieved a long cherished ambition of a county intermediate breakthrough with Tullaroan last October and they followed it up with victory in January’s epic Croke Park club decider against Cork’s Fr O’Neill’s.

That added to his collection of All-Ireland wins from his Kilkenny days – nine senior and two U21 – yet he is not planning on signing off on that note.

A senior campaign with Tullaroan will commence with league action in early April.

“I’ll stay going, my ambition is 40. I’m 36 at the moment. Now that’s the ambition. I don’t know will I get there. I’ll definitely be still hurling at that stage. That was always the way. With Kilkenny, I said I’d stay going til I wasn’t being picked – then I was dropped! Earlier than I expected. So I changed my phrase. I don’t want the Tullaroan manager dropping me. I said I’d change it after learning that lesson. I said 40, put it clear in their minds.”

He had not been considering another moment in the Croke Park spotlight since retiring in November 2014 from duties with Kilkenny. The focus was always on local matters.

“The county final was the one really. That was the dream. We always felt that maybe we could get there but the years for myself were starting to… gone from maybe five years down to four years to three years and then sure at the moment it’s year by year. There’s a lad in the club, he played in the ‘88 final, put it that way and he’s still playing so I was looking at him as my inspiration, if I stay going surely we’ll win one! That gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t going to panic, I’ve another few years left!”

“The last one is always the best. I think what was different for this was we went through so many years getting beaten and to finally win it then, you can’t really believe it. Even inter-county with Kilkenny I felt our best days in Croke Park were the year after we lost, ‘06 and ‘11. Why? Because we were after being beaten the year before and this was a bit longer, this was 25 years of getting beaten so it obviously was going to mean a little bit more. There was so much around family and community as well, everyone is probably so much closer together.”

launch-of-the-21st-annual-kn-group-all-ireland-gaa-golf-challenge Tommy Walsh at the launch of the 21st annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

His brother Shane struck the winning points in that January thriller and has since been drafted into the Kilkenny setup alongside Padraic, his established sibling.

“He’s 24, born 96. He’s had a few good years with Tullaroan. We were hoping he’d get the call in sooner. To get the call in now, he’s over the moon. Tullaroan people are happy too.

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“He played U21 in his last year. Didn’t play minor. He was quite small, only shot up when he was around 20, 21. Embraced the whole gym culture. Became much stronger than he was. He’s enjoying it.”

Walsh is also currently supporting another Kilkenny hurler, tracking the exploits of Aidan ‘Taggy’ Fogarty on RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars, reenacting a scene from Fr Ted in a recent video to promote votes for his former team-mate.

“It was one of my other brothers though of the idea. We’d often do videos for people for their birthday, for weddings, and so on. this was just one of them. It turned into something massive. None of us expected it.

“It was pancake Tuesday. We were out at home, all of us. We’d normally go home for pancake Tuesday. Martin’s wife Clare was actually making the pancakes this time. She was on her first one. We said we had this video to do, that we’d go down quick and get it done.

“So we went down. Sure we done it in two takes. The first time we had no lights – we had to get phones. So we rushed back up anyway and the phones just started… like there was 20,000 views of it in 20 minutes. thank God it was harmless enough what we done – we could have done anything really. It was a lesson.

“We’re after getting great mileage out of it. I’m glad I’m not still hurling anyway – I can sit back and enjoy it. We’ll leave it at that. One hit wonders.

jj-delaney-davy-russell-aidan-fogarty-and-tommy-walsh Aidan Fogarty and Tommy Walsh with JJ Delaney and Davy Russell at the 2019 Hurling for Cancer Research game. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We went to the show last week. Had the tickets a couple of weeks, were just hoping he was still in it. Last week when he was down to the final three, we were there, “Please Taggy, get through.” So he got through. We were happy then. we went up to it. It’s a great production.

“We’d have got a lot of nights out from the age of 18, 19, a lot of holidays. Any time there was anyone throwing shapes on a dancefloor and we felt we’ll take him on, we used to send in Taggy for a dance-off. He was always our ace.

“We always knew he had it but we didn’t realise he’d do as well as he’s doing. But, he is putting in the work.
“Like, he is putting in eight or nine hours a day like. He works for CBE, a crowd in Mayo, cash registers, electronic, he’s on the road. I am not sure if he’s doing it for these couple of weeks. It’s intense in fairness. He stays up in Dublin most of the time.”

Last weekend saw the proposal rubber-stamped for a six-team Leinster hurling championship and Walsh believes the results will provide proof if it is a worthwhile venture.

“It’s a difficult one. I think the only people that can answer this will be Laois and next year it’s whoever wins the Joe McDonagh, it’s only them two teams that can really tell us is it working or not. My experience from playing is you can’t beat winning matches and that’s what makes you go down to the hurling field and that’s where the enjoyment comes from.

“If you’re going out and you’re getting bet by 10 and 15 and 20 points every time, I don’t think long-term that can benefit teams. So I think the proof will be in the eating when we see these teams in the six-team Leinster Championship and I think they’ve requested this, they’ve wanted it. Let’s see how it goes. We’re all into promoting hurling. Everyone is on the one wavelength that way. Let’s try it out for a couple of years and we’ll look at it again.”

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The 21st annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge returns to Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort on September 11 and 12. Four-person teams are invited to represent their GAA clubs for All-Ireland glory on the golf course.

This year’s Challenge is in aid of Waterford and South Kilkenny Down Syndrome Ireland. For more details, visit Facebook (All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge) or Twitter (@golfgaa).

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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