St Kilda has put two years into the 23-year-old’s development but the failure to give him a senior game despite a consistently good level of performance with their VFL affiliate Sandringham proved their undoing.
Former All-Ireland winning team-mate Tadhg Kennelly sold Walsh on Sydney’s virtues and with the Swans promising more playing opportunities, he decided to make the inter-state switch.
New St Kilda coach Scott Watters declared in the morning that Walsh had a bright future with the Seaford outfit and would be going nowhere.
He spoke at length to Walsh afterwards in an attempt to convince him to stay. Having already undergone a medical with the Swans, the Tralee native was desperate to push the move through though and St Kilda relented, accepting two of Sydney’s draft picks in exchange for him.
“Tom Walsh indicated to the club that he wanted to make the move to Sydney,” Saints list manager Ameet Bains said.
“The club reluctantly engaged in discussions with the Sydney Swans on the last day of trade week when it was clear that Tommy wouldn’t be returning to the Saints.
“The club, and no doubt Saints supporters, are disappointed but every effort was made to convince Tommy to stick around.”
Sydney coach John Longmire said Walsh was a promising player who would give the Swans increased options.
“Tommy hasn’t played a senior game yet but we think he’s a fantastic key position prospect,” Longmire said. “He competes really well and he can play at either end of the ground.”
Meanwhile, Setanta Ó hAilpín failed in his bid to move away from Carlton for the second year in a row and now faces an uncertain future with the Blues having to delist one player before next month’s draft. Coach Brett Ratten said Ó hAilpín or Paul Bower would be the unlucky player.
“We only have to make room for one,” said Ratten.
“One will probably stay and one might have to go. But we’ll work through that. There are other things that are possibilities but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Ratten said there was no real interest in either player.
“It was discussed but nothing really came of it towards the end. I think it just got a bit close. I think clubs were waiting to see some of the other deals and we ran out of time. We’ve got some big decisions to make by October 31 with our list and trying to find a spot.”