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JJ: I wasn't surprised by Cody decision to play Walter

WALTER Walsh trundles through the lobby of the Citywest Hotel the morning after the night before, stopping maybe 10 times in the space of the five minutes it takes him to travel less than 20 metres.

A little under 24 hours previously, he could have breezed past, his height the only distinguishing feature, but now he's signing autographs, having his photo taken, doing interviews.

What a difference a debut makes.

"Well, who knows what's ahead of Walter," Brian Cody muses when he stops for a quick chat before darting off to Crumlin hospital. "I mean, that's in Walter's own hands. I don't individualise the thing at all. We do what we have to do, we do whatever we do and that's the thing."

With all the hoopla about Henry Shefflin, it's still testament to Walsh's awesome debut that the two stories competed equally with each other for prominence on Monday's back pages.

Given the complete and utter lack of senior experience, the magnitude of the game and his overall display, was it the greatest debut ever?

"He's a handful," says JJ Delaney, who has spent plenty of time in Walsh's awkward company in training over the last couple of months.

"He's a big man. He's quick and he showed well for the Under-21s and he was a leader for them as well. I'm delighted for him."

Delaney might know how he feels ... well, sort of.

The Johnstown man never played League hurling for Kilkenny prior to his 2002 Championship debut versus Offaly but 10 years on, he's got eight All-Ireland medals.

"You're looking around at the players you were looking at a year before on the telly or going to the game," he recalls. "I was looking at the likes of Peter (Barry) and DJ (Carey) and these lads and you're saying to yourself 'I shouldn't really be here'.

"You'd be saying to Walter before just to keep doing what you have been in training and it's just another match. He was showing form and he stepped up and he was unbelievable."

He added: "I wasn't very surprised (by Cody's call). He was showing form and Brian is true to his word about playing who shows form.

"He has said through the years that if you're here 10 years or two weeks it doesn't make a difference, if you are showing form you are going to be playing and he stuck to his word."

Cody, meanwhile, hopes the idea that Kilkenny face decline due to an ageing squad has been firmly put to bed.

"It comes back to the ageing thing about the team, that whole myth, the questions were there about our panel and the depth of our panel," said Cody.

"The panel is strong, the panel has always been strong. We were in the U21 All-Ireland final, we didn't win it but if you can get two or three players off a team any year you're doing nicely.

"Look, all we talk about is the present and yesterday's performance I thought was an outstanding performance to be honest."

There seems little chance of any decline in Cody's appetite to keep going either, despite his typical reluctance to look too far forward.

"I'm going to enjoy it as ever," he insisted.

"I like enjoying these occasions, we'll enjoy it and looking forward to the club matches.

"I haven't a clue what I'm doing next year, not a clue in the slightest. I never do. I only make it up as I go along."


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