independent

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Walsh pleased with his NFL return

Noel Horgan

Published 11/02/2017 | 00:00

Cork star Aidan Walsh was relatively satisfied by his performance in his first National League football game in over two years. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile
Cork star Aidan Walsh was relatively satisfied by his performance in his first National League football game in over two years. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile

Aidan Walsh was reasonably satisfied with his own performance in his first league game with the Cork footballers in over two years.

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The two-time All-Star opted to give full commitment to the hurlers for the past couple of seasons and his only involvement with the footballers in this period came in the concluding stages of last year's championship.

The hurlers had bowed out of the championship by then, so he agreed to return to the football squad when approached by the management prior to the clash with Longford in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

He returned to action when replacing the injured Alan O'Connor shortly before half-time in Cork's championship defeat by Donegal next time out, and he did well enough, which may have prompted his decision to throw in his lot completely with the footballers this year.

Whether or which, it has to be regarded as a major plus for the footballers that's he's back in the fold, as, at 27, he still has a lot to offer at the top level. He accepts, however, he has a lot of work to do in order to get up to full speed, particularly in terms of match-fitness.

"I'd be happy enough with the way things went for me today, but it was only my second game in three months, and my legs got very heavy there near the end," he remarked in the wake of the keenly-contested league opener against Galway.

"No matter how much training you do, it's a totally different story when you get out on the field, but there's a good few games to come before the championship, so hopefully I'll get an opportunity to play in most of them.

"That's what all your preparations are geared towards, and I can't wait for the ground to get a bit harder and the grass to get a bit shorter," stated the Kanturk man, adding that the main thing is to stay injury-free in the lead-up to the summer campaign.

Stressing that he's delighted to be playing with the footballers again, Walsh revealed he doesn't go along with the idea that competing in Division 2 is going to militate against Cork's prospects of doing well in the championship.

"When you look at it there's a lot of good teams in this division, it's very competitive, so I don't believe being relegated last year was a bit of a disaster for us, regardless of what a lot of people seem to think."

Reflecting on the Galway game, he felt that the draw was a good result from Cork's perspective, although he agreed they should have emerged from Salthill with the two points on offer, given the amount of chances they created over the 70 minutes.

"I think we had about 14 or 15 wides, which isn't good enough really, especially since a lot of the chances were scoreable.

"At the same time, to come away with something from your first game in the league away from home is a positive, and we knew it was going to be hard to win here today.

"Having collected a couple of All-Ireland Under 21 titles in recent years, Galway are an up-and-coming team, as they showed when winning the Connacht title last year, and they were probably caught on a bad day by Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter final."

Walsh said a particularly encouraging aspect of Cork's performance was the manner in which they responded after Galway got a bit of a run on them early in the second half, acknowledging that the contributions from substitutes Colm O'Neill and John O'Rourke were instrumental in enabling the Rebels to get back on track.

"Colm had a massive game, and when you have players like him and John O'Rourke coming off the bench, it gives the fellas who are on the field at the time a great boost.

"Cork had a lot of injuries last year, but if we can get everybody competing for places on a regular basis, we should be in a good position when the championship arrives, as the importance of having a strong bench can't be overstated.

"We aren't thinking about that at the moment of course, our only focus now is on the game against Kildare next weekend. We're looking forward to that, and hopefully well push hard again to get something out of what's going to be another stiff test up in Newbridge."

Corkman

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