Walsh: Donaghy will shine when it counts

KERRY star Kieran Donaghy has been backed to return to top form and lead Kerry into the All-Ireland SFC final, by his former team-mate Tommy Walsh.

While Donaghy has struggled this season to replicate the form that saw him crowned Footballer of the Year in 2006, Walsh believes that the iconic Kerry full-forward will regain his best form sooner rather than later.

“If Kerry are to win the All-Ireland then Kieran Donaghy is absolutely vital. They need him on song,” said Walsh, who is currently contracted with AFL 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 or anyone that any team before a game doesn’t worry about Kieran Donaghy and the presence he has in the full forward line. If he gets quality service, I’m sure that he will do as much damage as he has always done, especially with the quality of the players around him.”

While Donaghy’s form has been a subject of debate, especially after his low-key performance against Limerick in the quarter-finals, Walsh stresses his former colleague is more than merely a target man at full forward.

Walsh explained: “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.

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. 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.

“You need guys like Kieran, selfless guys that put the team before their own performance.”

While still awaiting his AFL debut, Walsh has kept a close eye on Kerry’s championship campaign.

“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,” the former Young Footballer of the Year said.

“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. At this time of the year they go into their championship mode. This is where they come into their own and it’s very hard to stop them.”

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