Tuesday 17 October 2017

Walsh on mark in Sydney debut

Daragh O Conchuir

Tommy Walsh said that playing his first AFL match was "worth the wait" after he scored two goals as Sydney Swans trounced Melbourne Demons 138-37 in Saturday's round 8 game.

Walsh is in his third season Down Under, having spent the first two with St Kilda before joining the Swans in the off-season. He had to be patient as Sydney got off to a brilliant start to the current campaign, but a combination of injuries and losing their last two games saw the 24-year-old given this opportunity.

He took it well, using his size and strength effectively to accumulate 14 possessions, 10 of them in contests. He also claimed six marks and for good measure, made four tackles.

Wearing the No 17 jersey made famous by his former Kerry team-mate Tadhg Kennelly, Walsh kicked his first goal from five yards in the second quarter. His second arrived in the third quarter after a powerful mark under pressure. Kennelly was commentating on the game and predicted a bright future for the Tralee man, even if his introduction to top-flight Aussie Rules was a gentle one.

Melbourne were so poor that Kennelly said their former star player and president, the late Jim Stynes, "would be turning in his grave" but that will not detract from the occasion as far as Walsh is concerned.

"It was special being my first game and everything," said Walsh afterwards, "but the most important thing was we won the game."

Coach John Longmire was also pleased. "He improved as the game went," said Longmire. "There were a couple of really strong efforts he was able to do in our forward line."

Of the other Irish in action, Pearce Hanley clocked up a brilliant 29 touches as Brisbane trounced GWS by 92 points. Martin Clarke was effective as Collingwood emerged successful from the repeat of last year's Grand Final, two late goals seeing off Geelong.

But it was a weekend to forget for Zach Tuohy as he managed just eight disposals as Carlton were thumped by Adelaide 124-55

Irish Independent

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