Lack of game time fuelled move, says Walsh

FRUSTRATION was the main reason Tommy Walsh moved from St Kilda to the Sydney Swans.

The Kerry man revealed he took the decision to follow in his former county team-mate Tadhg Kennelly’s footsteps after realising he wasn’t getting a fair shout of playing with the Melbourne club.

Despite not starting him in an AFL game, St Kilda attempted to convince him to stay but he was unmoved and has now made the switch up theAustralian east coast.

“I was at home and my manager (Michael Quinlan) spoke to me about maybe joining another club and it went from there,” explained Walsh. “It was a very hard decision but I just felt it was the best thing for me at this stage of my career.

“I’ll miss all the boys at St Kilda but it’s a new beginning and a fresh start for me which is right for me at this stage. I’ll be going up to Sydney after this series is over. No matter where you are it’s an achievement to get games... it’s a tough league and a tough game. I came out here to make it and I’ll work as hard as it takes to make it work.

“It is frustrating when you’re not getting games and you think you should. It’s like any job — if you don’t enjoy doing it you’re probably better off not being in it.

“I always knew how hard it would be but now Sydney are offering me a great opportunity and it’s up to me to make the best of it.”

The International Rules series affords Walsh the opportunity to showcase his talents to the Australian public but he doesn’t see it like that — even if he wants to beat his fellow AFL colleagues.

“I’ve no desire to go out and show them… that’s not why I’m playing but it would be nice, I suppose to stick it to them.”

There is a generic acceptance in the Ireland camp that they just weren’t good enough last year and Australia turned it on.

“Their handling, their ball skills and their shooting were all first class,” said Walsh. ” We’d respect that but our lads have put in a huge effort over the last seven or eight weeks.”

As for what went wrong 12 months ago, Walsh believes they compromised their strengths too much.

“We went away a bit from our natural style as Gaelic footballers and played a bit into their (Australia’s hands) a bit. We’ll just have to work as hard as we can and hope theopportunities will come and when they do we have to take them.

“With the talent that’s in our squad it’s a question of getting the ball into people’s hands in the right positions.”

Walsh operated around the centre on occasions in last year’s series, returning to the midfield position he had filled at under-age level.

There he was integral in the fight-back in the second test in Croke Park where Ireland threatened to upset Australia.

“I really enjoyed it,” said the 23-year-old. “With Stephen Cluxton kicking the ball out, he’s able to put it right down your throat which is a great help to the lads around themiddle.

“It’s a role I like playing in; out around the middle and in front of the half-forwards… just being a presence and trying to win ball... being that target or release for the backs so hopefully I’ll be able to provide something similar.”

As much as he wants to prove himself in Australian Rules, returning to the Kerry colours is something that is always on Walsh’s mind.

“I’d love to go back at some stage. There’s always a burning desire to play for Kerry. I was at this year’s final… I was nearly more nervous than if I was playing. It was a very tough game and they were unlucky not to come out the other side of it. I’d like to play for them again... you never know what can happen at any time in this game.”

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