Thursday 14 December 2017

Walsh warns Mayo to beware 'dangerous' Donaghy

Kieran Donaghy. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Donaghy. Photo: Sportsfile

Kieran McCarthy

FORMER Kerry footballer Tommy Walsh has backed Kieran Donaghy to return to form and fire the Kingdom to All-Ireland glory.

While iconic full-forward Donaghy has struggled to find his best form in this year's championship, including a below-par performance against Limerick in Kerry's quarter-final victory, Walsh believes that his former team-mate is not too far away from exploding into life once more.

"If Kerry are to win the All-Ireland, then Kieran Donaghy is absolutely vital. They need him on song and they need him on the field," said Walsh, who is contracted to Aussie Rules club St Kilda.

"Of course, he would love to be getting on the end of a few more balls and a few more scores, but that happens to everyone. Form is only temporary. He has been a class player for so many years and it will just take one ball or one goal to spark him again, and get him back to where he was.

"You can't tell me that any team before a game doesn't worry about Kieran Donaghy and the presence he has. If he gets quality service, I am sure that he will do as much damage as he has always done, especially with the quality of the players around him."

Donaghy, known as 'Star' to his friends and team-mates, formed a lethal full-forward line partnership for Kerry in the past alongside Walsh and Colm Cooper, with the former stressing that there is more to Donaghy's game than just being a target man at full-forward.

The former Footballer of the Year, who burst on the scene with Kerry in 2006, may only have scored just 0-5 in this season's championship but, as Walsh explains, the Austin Stacks star is the complete full-forward.

"He is such a dangerous player. Because he is such a presence in the full-forward line, he actually takes a lot of the attention away from the other guys. Normally it takes two fellas to watch one -- one to mark him and another to keep an eye on him," Tralee native Walsh explained. "It's the things that people don't see that makes him so important for Kerry, like his leadership and his work-rate without the ball.

"Even in my first few games with Kerry when I might have been struggling, Kieran was always in my ear to tell me to keep going and to keep persisting with it. I don't think I would have played as well, or even got through a lot of those games, if it wasn't for him."

"He was always there to support me when things weren't going my way.

"It doesn't matter how he is playing, he always gets on to everyone. You need guys like Kieran, selfless guys that put the team before their own performance."

Walsh, in his second year with St Kilda and still awaiting his AFL debut, has backed Donaghy and Kerry to see off Mayo's challenge in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.

"I haven't seen much of Mayo but they beat Cork so that alone tells you that they will be a very tough team to beat," said the former Young Footballer of the Year.

"I watched Kerry against Limerick, and they looked very fit and the forward movement was out of this world at times. Mayo are a step above Limerick, but I think Kerry have enough to get through."

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