Tuesday 20 February 2018

Big ball... small ball: 'Brick' still foundation stone for Déise bid

Waterford's Michael 'Brick' Walsh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Waterford's Michael 'Brick' Walsh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

Every team needs someone willing to do the donkey work, a selfless player who gets down and dirty from start to finish, winning the dirty ball for others and often sacrificing their own game for the good of the team.

Managers the length and breadth of the country are crying own for players with such ball-winning ability. Kilkenny had Eoin Larkin, Tipperary have Patrick 'Bonner' Maher and Waterford will hope to hold onto Michael 'Brick' Walsh for as long as humanly possible.

And if Brick takes to the field at half-forward against Cork on Sunday as expected, the 34-year-old will reach a significant career landmark and join fellow Déise legend Tony Browne at the top of the county's all-time Championship appearance list on 65.

Having made his Championship debut off the bench in 2003 against Kerry, former dual star Walsh is still going strong 14 years later and is more important than ever in Derek McGrath's plans as they chase that elusive Liam MacCarthy Cup.

Humble and softly-spoken off the pitch, Brick is a colossus between the white lines and the Stradbally clubman is likely to join esteemed company on Sunday and tie the feats of Cork's Christy Ring and Kilkenny's JJ Delaney.

He's still some way behind table-topper Brendan Cummins on 73 but if he were to end this year with the Celtic Cross that his efforts deserve, we doubt he'd complain too much.

Tennyson racing to the top

It was a bad week for Kilkenny hurling folk as Brian Cody's men exited the Leinster Championship, but there was success on the equine fields as former Cats star Pat Tennyson hit the winners' enclosure at Roscommon on Tuesday evening.

Owner Tennyson, a midfielder of note during a short Kilkenny career where he collected two All-Ireland medals, has enjoyed a fruitful 2017 alongside younger brother John, holder of six Celtic Crosses, having claimed All-Ireland intermediate honours with Carrickshock in February.

The aptly-named Champagne Paddy came with a late run under top amateur Jamie Codd (a Wexford man!) for Pilltown-based trainer Joseph O'Brien to score on his debut.

Millennium Man makes Leinster Hall of Fame 

Offaly hurling fans who yearn for the glory days will have their heart-strings pulled on Sunday when Faithful legend Brian Whelahan is inducted into the Leinster GAA Hall of Fame before their semi-final with Galway in O'Moore Park.

Offaly legend Brian Whelahan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Offaly legend Brian Whelahan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

A double All-Ireland and Hurler of the Year winner, Whelahan collected four All-Stars, including one at full-forward when flu-stricken and switched to attack before turning the game in the '98 final victory over Kilkenny.

Man of the match in five All-Ireland finals, the stylish Birr defender won four All-Ireland club titles and was the only modern day hurler on the GAA Team of the Millennium in 2000.

How Offaly would love to have a player of his calibre available.

Egan's legacy to be  set in stone in Sneem

"Some get free travel, Dad gets a monument," said Máirín Egan, whose late father John will be honoured with a memorial statue in his native Sneem tomorrow, just days after what would have been his 65th birthday.

Egan, who passed away in April 2012, won six All-Ireland senior medals in attack for Kerry between 1975 and 1984, and collected a quintet All-Star awards in a glittering career.

With family and friends in attendance, including his son John, an Irish soccer international, the unveiling ceremony takes place at 5pm in Sneem, with the quartet of Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Mick O'Dwyer, Jimmy Deenihan and Niall Cahalane performing the honours on a busy day of activities in south Kerry to honour one of the game's finest servants.

Quote - unquote

"There's fine wine and then there's Kate Kelly. Complete honour to play alongside this lady. Was and always will be one of Wexford's greatest," - Mags D'Arcy pays tribute to Wexford team-mate Kate Kelly after the Model heroine brought the curtain down on a 21-year inter-county career which included four All-Ireland senior titles and a staggering nine All-Stars.

Bet of the weekend

When there is a feast of GAA action, it can be hard to find the best value but tomorrow's qualifier between Wicklow and Laois may have the answer.

The O'Moore men put four goals past Longford last month, but were subsequently blown away by Kildare, while the Garden county were competitive until the closing stages against Louth.

Both sides will operate from Division 4 next season and with home advantage in Aughrim, Wicklow are no forlorn hope at 11/2.

Irish Independent

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