Monday 19 February 2018

Farney look to Donal's inspiring 'Never give up message' – Walshe

Colin Walshe has admitted that Monaghan have lost the element of surprise ahead of Sunday's Ulster SFC final against Donegal. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Colin Walshe has admitted that Monaghan have lost the element of surprise ahead of Sunday's Ulster SFC final against Donegal. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

For every league and championship match this year the Monaghan players have committed to wearing the wristband of the Donal Walsh 'Livelife' foundation that serves to perpetuate the memory of the brave young Kerry man's inspirational message in his battle against cancer and promote his cause of providing appropriate teenage facilities in hospices.

"Never Give Up" is one of the messages engraved on the bands, appropriate in a sporting context for a group that were as far away as ever from an Ulster title when they spurned a healthy lead to Down in the 2012 Ulster semi-final and lost by a point.

To be preparing for a second successive Ulster final against Donegal would have taken quite a leap of imagination for any Monaghan player or supporter who came away from the Athletic Grounds in Armagh that evening.

But they didn't 'give up' and the link to the foundation, the idea of one of the back-room team, seems an easy association for them to make.

"There is not a person up and down the country that has not been touched by it and especially around this area, a few people who are close to home," said All Star defender Colin Walshe.

"So everyone in the camp was glad to wear them and support the foundation.

The improvement in Walshe's game has come almost hand in hand with Monaghan's progress, earning him one of the county's two All Stars last season on the back of superb defence against Cavan danger man Martin Dunne and Donegal's Patrick McBrearty on the way to that Ulster title success.

But as a defender he acknowledges that tuition days are far from over, with the recent lesson delivered by Armagh's Jamie Clarke checking his step somewhat.

He got to grips with Clarke in the replay – the Crossmaglen man only accumulating his tally when the game was essentially gone from Armagh's grasp – but that drawn game stung Walshe.

"I probably gave Jamie too much respect in the first game and I was not up to the speed of the game at all," he reflected.

"He had a good day at the office and pulled the strings along with Kevin Dyas that day.

"It is something we looked at during the following week. We sat down and watched the game back. Malachy could have made changes and got someone else to mark him but he gave me a second bite at him and I was grateful for that because I felt that I had not done myself justice.

"He (Clarke) scored a few points the last day again but I came out of the game in better shape than the drawn game.

"Coming into the games boys would look to you to maybe be a leader, to be a player who would perform at a high level and I didn't deliver.

"It was something that did hurt bad enough and in between the two games I did a lot of thinking about it and I was just thankful to get a second chance of it."

Ahead of Sunday's repeat fixture the element of surprise that Monaghan carried into last year's final clash has evaporated, he acknowledged.

"We came in after two mediocre performances against Cavan and Antrim.

"People might have sat up and taken a bit more notice of us this year but we are probably still going in as underdogs."

Irish Independent

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