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Walsh wants payback

IF there's a man with every right to have vengeance coursing through his veins this week, it's Tommy Walsh.

Just like Kilkenny, you probably only get one chance at 'doing a job' on Tommy in a season and conventional wisdom would have it that Galway have already had theirs and taken it with both hands.

All hurling logic would strongly suggest that Walsh won't be there for the taking twice in the same Championship.

Donal óg Cusack, writing in his fortnightly column for www.gaa.ie, painted an amusing picture of what exactly was going on behind those closed Nowlan Park doors over the past couple of months since the Leinster final.

"When (Galway) heard that Kilkenny's traditionally open training sessions were now being held behind closed doors did they shudder and imagine Tommy Walsh wrestling with US Navy Seals?" wrote the Cork 'keeper.

And rather than give the old: 'It's an All-Ireland final -- that's motivation enough' line, the great Tullaroan man admits that the Leinster final humiliation is stored somewhere convenient in his memory bank, ready to be called upon for Sunday's Croke Park showpiece.

"You probably don't store them on purpose," he admits, going for an eighth All-Ireland medal on Sunday, "but they would always be in the back of your head.

"Any time you get beaten by a team, the next day you go out, you're going to be motivated by that last match. It all stays fresh in every player's mind, I believe.

"You wouldn't be doing it on purpose but I think naturally, it does happen."

These days have passed him by before, though. And he's learned that every second counts on such occasions.



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"The one thing that does happen on All-Ireland final day is that it goes as quick as anything," Walsh recalls.

"You would be out on the field one minute and then the next minute it's over. That's the one thing you would notice. You just have to go with it because you don't have time to think. Before you know it, the game is over.

"We're after being in the final so often, every day you go out you're just trying to get the feeling of winning because we have the experience of winning and losing.

"You just want to be happy for the rest of the winter and that's what drives you on... that feeling afterwards."

But if the September days go by in a flash, the Leinster final -- Walsh admits -- passed by him in a maroon blur.

He attempted to take Damien Hayes's reins for the first few minutes before the rotation of the Galway forwards and was on David Burke for the Galway tyro's goal.

"You're literally on someone new every five minutes," he admits. "Every forward line now is trying something new, ever since Tipperary in 2010 when they created a load of space. That's what Galway did and they got scores out of it."

Once bitten, twice shy and all that. Walsh, Brian Hogan and whoever mans the number seven jersey may play closer to their own goal on Sunday than they have in a long, long time in an attempt to shore up that very space which Burke, Damien Hayes and Joe Canning exploited so effectively in that Leinster final first half, a shocking 35 minutes of hurling in every possible sense of the word.

Walsh admits that the Kilkenny dressing-room was a dark place at half-time the last day but the same prevailing forces which saw them salvage some solace from that match remain strong in the camp this week ahead of the biggest day of all.

"The Kilkenny supporters, they don't mind if you're beaten," he notes. "They would always clap you on the back for trying.

"But it would be very hard to go back and face them if we had not tried in the second half.

"You're trying to not let your team down. That was the only thing in our minds against Galway... restore some pride and get back the scoreline."

The final act of Walsh's and Kilkenny's salvation begins at 3.30 this Sunday.


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