Thursday 14 December 2017

Walsh starts as Rebels look to set up Tipp clash


Aidan Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Aidan Walsh will make his first Championship start in three years for the Cork footballers after manager Peadar Healy named a strong side to face Waterford in their Munster SFC opener tonight (7.0).

Having opted to play only hurling in 2015 before rejoining the football squad last July following the hurlers' exit, the 2010 Young Footballer of the Year decided to focus solely on the big ball this year and lines out at midfield for the first time since the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo.

There are also returns for two-time All-Star defender Michael Shields, who starts at centre-back, and goalkeeper Ken O'Halloran - both left out in the cold last season - while wing-back Kevin Crowley makes his Championship bow.

Colm O'Neill, Peter Kelleher and Paul Kerrigan lead a potent full-forward line as Cork look to swat aside the Déise challenge and set up a rematch with Tipperary, and a chance to avenge last year's shock semi-final defeat.

On the hurling front, Dublin boss Ger Cunningham has placed his faith in youth, naming four debutants for their Leinster SHC joust with League champions Galway in O'Connor Park tomorrow (4.0).

Donal Burke, Ben Quinn, Eoghan Conroy and Sean Moran are all given a baptism of fire in a Dubs side looking to cause a major shock against the much-fancied Tribesmen, now favourites to lift All-Ireland honours in September.

Liam Rushe and Chris Crummey provide valuable experience in defence while Ryan O'Dwyer and Eamonn Dillon spearhead the attack, but the absence of Mark Schutte, who has joined the footballers, is a blow.

Their opponents make one change from the side that humbled reigning All-Ireland winners Tipperary with Conor Cooney returning to fitness to take the place of Niall Burke in the only change made by Galway manager Micheál Donoghue.

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