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Monday 22 October 2018

Man of the match in wonderland

Ann-Marie Freyne, AIB Local Market Leader, alongside Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail, presents Ryan Walsh of Kanturk of with the Man of the Match award for his outstanding performance in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final match between Ballyragget and Kanturk at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Midheach
Ann-Marie Freyne, AIB Local Market Leader, alongside Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail, presents Ryan Walsh of Kanturk of with the Man of the Match award for his outstanding performance in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final match between Ballyragget and Kanturk at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Midheach

Diarmuid Sheehan

When it comes to the Walsh family the pecking order up to Sunday was pretty set, Aidan topped the charts with some hugely talented younger relations following on close behind, however, Sunday in Croke Park the order took a sharp turn towards the younger stars as the likes of Ryan, Paul and Ian Walsh all stood tall for their club - going above and beyond to bring the All Ireland title back to Duhallow.

Man of the Match is a special award saved for, you guessed it, the man that stood tallest of all for 60 minutes or more. Last Sunday, still in his first year as a member of the adult team in Kanturk, Ryan Walsh announced to the GAA world that he is a talent giving a Man of the Match display for Kanturk on his first visit to Croke Park. The mild mannered teenager did more than his bit to bring glory to the club that he has loved since he started playing the game as a kid.

Ryan was in true legendary company in the middle for Kanturk with Lorcán McLoughlin his partner in crime for the duration, but the teenager stood tall alongside the Cork star as between them they guided their side to immortality.

"This means so much to me, but I wouldn't be standing here as Man of the Match without every player that played today and all those that fought with us along the way. This is a real team and squad effort and I just cannot explain to you right now what it means to me.

"Just getting to Croke Park was amazing. It was my first time here and my first year on the team but some of the lads have been battling for years and years and it really is because of all of them that we are here."

Walsh may be one of the youngest players on the panel but he is clearly not short on the confidence front with the ball in hand and a keeper top beat.

"The manager Jim McCarthy must take the credit for the goal. He told me that any chance you get just run straight at them and when the ball fell to me I just went for it."

The hugely talented midfielder may be the new kid on the block, but he still wasn't prepared to hand over the ball to his partner in crime McLoughlin when the chance arrived.

"I didn't really see him next to me. I saw green grass and just ran for it. I heard something, but just backed myself and thankfully it paid off. Lorcán has enough goals scored, I said I would take this one. I probably should have listened to him alright but look it went in and that is all that counts now."

Ballyragget really put it up to Kanturk at the finish, but Walsh wasn't fazed as he knew this one would be hard won.

"We have gone into every game this year knowing that it was going to be tough. That is what Jim McCarthy instilled in us this year. We believe we have the talent and we believe in our own ability.

"We have gone points down before and we went down again today but we didn't panic.

"It looked dodgy for a while but we stuck to our guns, plugged away - there is always an opportunity and it happened again today and thankfully Ian [Walsh] was there for us."

Ryan will get to test himself against some of the best hurlers in Cork later in the season as Kanturk take their first steps into senior hurling however if the campaign just finished is anything to go by then this hugely talented and committed midfield will surely have a long and bright future ahead of him in the Kanturk and, perhaps, Cork colours - we won't have to wait long to see.

Corkman

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