Saturday, March 2, 2024

Walsh believes Kilmacud would have replayed final

Must read

Shane Walsh (right) believes the Kilmacud having 16 men on the field in the dying seconds of the All-Ireland Club Football Final did not materially affect the result of the game

Shane Walsh believes Kilmacud Crokes would have replayed the All-Ireland Club Football decider if that had been the final outcome of the GAA’s probe into the game’s controversial ending.

Glen lost the final 1-11 to 1-9 but then objected after video showed that Kilmacud finished with 16 men as the Derry side chased a match-winning goal.

After the GAA did order a replay, Kilmacud launched a counter-objection before Glen withdrew from the process and Walsh says the game’s conclusion “left both clubs in an ugly place”.

Speaking on the latest edition of BBC Sport Northern Ireland’s, The GAA Social, Galway star Walsh says that the GAA should have responded quickly to the controversy instead of leaving the onus on Glen to file their objection when it had become obvious that Kilmacud had finished the match with 16 players.

“Probably the best way to handle the situation was for the GAA to come out and apologise (and say) there was an officiating error, because that’s what I believe it was on the day. We didn’t plan that script to happen,” said Walsh, who was in conversation with The GAA Social’s presenters Thomas Niblock and Oisin McConville.

Asked whether Kilmacud would have agreed to a replay had that been the final outcome of the GAA’s investigation, whose protracted nature eventually led Glen to withdraw from the process, Walsh replied: “It was more a case of ‘what will be, will be’.

“It’s obviously not ideal to have to replay a game on a technicality but at the same time, (Kilmacud manager) Robbie (Brennan) has always said and the lads will say it themselves, ‘whatever is asked you’ll do’, that is the way things were in the set-up and I don’t envisage things being any different had it gone that way.”

Kilmacud extra players
Kilmacud (in purple) had 16 players defending their goal in the dying seconds at Croke Park

Allegations Kilmacud cheated ‘just bonkers’

However, Walsh believes the right outcome was arrived at as the Crokes were belatedly confirmed as All-Ireland champions and insists that claims the Dublin club deliberately cheated are “just bonkers”.

“From the 45 happening until the ball going wide, the only (Kilmacud) person to touch the ball was our keeper Conor Ferris when the ball went wide.

“When you look back at it that way, you’d honestly say ‘that was it….the game was done’.

“While there was an officiating error, we’re just going to say we’ll take the result the way it was. That’s the way I probably believe it myself, it should have happened. Obviously it went on another spin.”

Walsh added that he had “no idea about the 16th man”, which came about as a result of Dara Mullin not going off despite being substituted as Glen were about to take a 45 deep into injury-time, until it was mentioned to him in a post-match media interview.

“I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about but I obviously saw all about it after that.”

‘I got socks, shorts and a top for Kilmacud switch’

In the wide-ranging podcast interview, Walsh also talks about his controversial move to the Dublin club last summer, which was announced the week after his sensational scoring duel with Kerry’s David Clifford in the All-Ireland Football Final.

Dublin-based Walsh says the strain of travelling back and forth to Galway for both county and club duty had begun to take a major toll on his body.

“It probably all stemmed from midway through the league (last year). The commuting up and down and I picked up a knock and it was stemming from physio, and more from the driving point of view, that was making me re-evaluate.”

Walsh’s move did come in for some criticism from within his own Kilkerrin-Clonberne club but he says that team-mates who he had soldiered with for more than a decade were understanding of his predicament.

“Obviously they were disappointed to see me go but they could understand why you were doing it and in fairness, they wished me the best of luck with it.”

Following his move, rumours swirled around the GAA world about alleged inducements Walsh had received for moving to Kilmacud but he insists that all he got was “a few pairs of shorts and socks and a training top”.

Ronan O'Gara spoke to the Galway squad prior to last July's All-Ireland Football Final
Walsh says advice from Irish rugby great Ronan O’Gara helped him produce the game of his life in last July’s All-Ireland Football Final

‘I kind of knew I was going to perform’

Asked for his reflections on last July’s All-Ireland Final, when he outscored David Clifford by notching 0-9 but still ended up on the losing side after an epic final, Walsh said that he “knew” he was going to play well following pre-match sessions with Irish rugby great Ronan O’Gara organised for the Galway squad by manager Padraic Joyce.

“He started talking about the Heineken Cup final Munster lost to Northampton. He said: Guess how much I scored in the final?’. He just put up his hand and gestured zero.

“He started talking about probably the worst things you could hear in relation to where he was at mentally himself. But as he said himself, it made him the player he was. He was then able to develop that because he was saying ‘I’m never going to let an occasion get the better of me again’.

“He said in the game you have 70 minutes. That’s your time. If you’re there wondering what the celebrations are going to be like, what the defeat is going to be like, the game is going to pass you by. He said don’t be that player that lets the game pass you by.

“That for me was really what I needed. I remember him saying it to me the night before the game. I used that.

“I came down to breakfast on the morning of the game and I was very relaxed and looking forward to the game rather than being in any way uptight.

“I remember our nutritionist, Sinead saying ‘you’re very relaxed. You look very happy’. I said ‘it’s an All-Ireland Final we’re going out to play. Why wouldn’t I be happy?’.

“I kind of knew myself I was going to perform.”

‘I don’t drink at all’

After being part of two All-Ireland campaigns in such a short period of time, Walsh said that he had to inform Joyce that he wouldn’t be able to play in Galway’s four opening league matches this year, as he instead went for a month’s break to Australia with his girlfriend Rachel, who hails from Mayo.

“Mentally I wasn’t prepared to go again that soon.

“We had a couple of conversations over it. Probably divided opinions on it in a way but I just said it was going to be better for me and better for the group.

“Padraic was a player himself and he understands where players are at.”

As it turned out, teetotal Walsh was able to be pitched straight back into his action as he helped Galway to a crucial victory over Monaghan 10 days ago after passing all his required fitness tests following his return from Sydney.

“I don’t drink at all. I never have,” added the Galway star.

“There’s no particular reason. It never interested me. I just decided I would make my decision as I go along. I’m still making that decision as I go along. It’s never…..I’m not set in stone for life. If I do want one in time, I’ll have one.”

Latest article