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White Swan: Walsh ready to make his Aussie Rules breakthrough

Former Kerry star Tommy Walsh is all set to make his senior debut for the Sydney Swans tomorrow evening.

Tommy Walsh, pictured during a break from training with the Irish International Rules team last October.
Tommy Walsh, pictured during a break from training with the Irish International Rules team last October.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

TOMMY WALSH WILL go head-to-head with a few familiar faces when he makes his Sydney Swans debut in Melbourne tomorrow night.

The man from Tralee has been putting in the hard hours with his new employers since switching Aussie Rules allegiances to Sydney last October.

Now Walsh looks set to get his reward when he’s thrust into action in the first round of the pre-season NAB Cup tomorrow.

But if he hopes to seize this chance and stake a claim for regular spot in the Swans’ starting line-up, he’ll have to do it against the team which whisked him away from Kerry shortly after winning his second All-Ireland medal in 2009, St Kilda.

“There will be nerves playing against my old team and being my first hit-out with the Swans,” Walsh told the Swans official website. ”But if you weren’t nervous I suppose there’d be something wrong.

I just want to get down there and see what happens. I’m playing for the Swans now and I’m sure they (St Kilda) won’t treat me any differently either.

I’m sure it’ll be fun to come up against some of the guys that I played with for those two years and I’m looking forward to it.

Walsh struggled to break into the senior panel at St Kilda and, although he played in last year’s NAB Cup and for an affiliate club in the Victorian Football League, he left at the end of last season without ever making an appearance in the AFL proper.

But Sydney know a good Irish prospect when they see one — Tadhg Kennelly made his name with club and played almost 200 times before hanging up his boots last October — and snapped up Walsh on trade deadline day.

Now, a couple of days short of his 24th birthday on Sunday, he feels he’s ready to take the next step.

“I do feel ready, but you won’t really know until you play a proper AFL game. These few weeks in the NAB Cup are great preparation for that.”

I just have to work as hard as I can and get all the structures right and play the way the Swans want me to play so I can put myself up for selection for those AFL games that come around.

Ever since I was traded all I’ve been looking forward to is getting into the games.

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Niall Kelly

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