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Walsh praises Cats rookie for putting head in where it hurts

SEEING Colin Fennelly, literally, putting his head on the line before half-time sent out a massive marker to both his team-mates and the opposition, said another of Kilkenny's bravest players, WRITES CLIONA FOLEY.

"When Colin Fennelly blocked Lar with his head I thought that summed it all up for us, a pure team performance," said Tommy Walsh.

The 22-year-old corner-forward himself said: "I don't think I put it in on purpose! I had to block down the ball and my hurl was gone, it was broken. I just stood there in front of him and blocked the ball."

Fennelly said all his concentration was focused on Kilkenny's plan of stopping long balls getting up to Corbett. "It was just get the ball out over the line, all the lads just killed every single ball they could, put it over the sideline or over the end line."

But, accidental or not, it was a heroic act that blew his team-mate away. "That sent out a great message to us all," Walsh said. "Colin's only on the panel this year but it was a great standard to set in that first half."

Tullaroan wing-back Walsh had earlier bizarrely caught referee Brian Gavin with his hurl, which saw a lengthy stoppage as the referee needed treatment for a cut on his nose.

Asked if he had spoken to Gavin afterwards or apologised to him, Walsh quipped : "I know a few Offaly lads there from the Railway Cup and they are all hardy lads. Brian Gavin is no different."

"Just waking up this morning, you'd kind of be looking forward to going to bed just to wake up again the following morning," he said. "That's what this means. Last year was so different and we're all absolutely delighted."

Walsh deflected praise of his aerial brilliance, including one outstanding fetch, saying: "When the ball comes down you are just trying to catch it. We are hurling so much now that you'd be trying different things to catch the ball. Different things work on different days for you, but I dropped a few too!"

The 28-year-old wing-back ranked this victory as the greatest of his seven All-Ireland medals. "They say your last one is your No 1 and when you lose one you are so hurt that winning again means so much, but this one I'd compare to '06 when we had lost the two before that. This is as good."

Walsh graciously said he didn't feel Kilkenny underperformed in 2010, but that Tipperary were simply better.

"Some people said we were outfought, but I don't think we were. Tipperary just out-hurled us. There is nothing more to be said about that."

Irish Independent