Big challenge whets Walsh's appetite

Donnchadh Walsh surveys the scene in Croke Park ahead of Saturday’s game with Dublin
Donnchadh Walsh surveys the scene in Croke Park ahead of Saturday’s game with Dublin

Colin Duffy

They don't come much tougher than facing the reigning All-Ireland and Allianz League champions, but Kerry forward Donnchadh Walsh is relishing a crack at Dublin this Saturday in Croke Park.

On Tuesday the Cromane clubman was on hand to help launch the Allianz League at GAA Headquarters, and he says when the fixture was announced it quickly helped focus minds in the Kingdom camp.

"Once the fixture was made and we heard it was going to be in Croke Park against the All-Ireland champions and the Allianz National league champions it focussed our minds on the new season," he said.

"The fact that we know how good the Dubs are it definitely puts a small bit of added pressure on us, but that is good pressure. You always want some pressure on you to need to perform well to win a game. I think everybody has been looking forward to it and I'm sure it will be a great game on Saturday evening.

"We are playing them on their home patch - they are so used to this field. It is going to be a big challenge for us. We are definitely just looking for a performance. We'd love to win our first game and get two points on the board. It's going to be very hard for us, but we are looking forward to the challenge."

It is Eamonn Fitzmaurice's second season as the Kerry manager, with his inaugural campaign at the helm ending in a seven-point All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Saturday's opponents.

Walsh says it's about getting that bit extra from the squad in 2014.

"Looking back on last year you would say that maybe we were close enough to maybe pipping Dublin on the day, but we weren't. The fact is that we were five if not ten percent off where we needed to be. So we need to find that five or ten percent improvement this year.

"We are going to obviously leave no stone unturned to find those few extra percent in our performances and we are going to work harder than last year and hopefully improve what's required."

Walsh will be hoping that he and his Kerry colleagues can show sparks of improvement this weekend, but he also keenly aware of the depth of talent in the opposition camp.

"They have strength in depth and it showed last year with the players they were able to spring from the bench.

"It probably won them the All-Ireland - that they had such strength in depth. Yeah, they are just going to be very strong.

"We think we have a good panel as well that we are building, and have been building for the last year or so. It will be a good test for us to put ourselves up against the Dubs and see how far we have come."


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