Tommy Walsh: Kilkenny will worry if goals do not flow

Tommy Walsh says it will be time to be worried about Kilkenny’s goal drought if it continues against Tipperary in Thurles this evening.

Tommy Walsh: Kilkenny will worry if goals do not flow

The Cats have yet to score a goal in their three Division 1A games and also drew a blank in their Walsh Cup semi-final and final.

Walsh, speaking at the launch of Laochra Gael in Dublin yesterday evening, isn’t too perturbed right now but acknowledges it might be an issue if they go a sixth consecutive game without a goal in Semple Stadium.

“The way teams seem to be setting up now, there’s a lot of spare defenders and it’s hard to score goals. When we were at our height and I think Dublin used to play an extra man back, we used to find it very difficult to score goals. Tomorrow will be more of a real ‘where are we?’.

“I reckon Kilkenny and Tipperary will go 15 on 15. If we don’t score any goals tomorrow night, maybe they’ll have to look at something. But we never got carried away with scoring goals. If it happened, it happened. You can’t force it. If you win matches scoring points, you just have to go with that. Naturally, players have different skillsets.”

After what happened last September, Walsh believes Brian Cody will have Kilkenny keyed-in to beat Tipperary and become the first team to do so since last April.

“His mindset was always ‘the next game’. No matter who you were playing, whether it was a training session, a Walsh Cup game, a league game, playing Tipperary or whoever. He concentrated on that match as if it was an All-Ireland final. I’d say they’ll be going all guns blazing.”

Walsh isn’t blind to believe that Tipperary and Kilkenny are oscillating at the same speed and he has noticed how Tipperary are talking about creating a legacy.

“Tipperary have the experience of 2010 where they didn’t build on their All-Ireland win. Listening to them in the papers and the media and I’ve even met a few of them over the last year, they seem very motivated to go on and not leave it as just one All-Ireland title. That’s probably dangerous for everybody else that Tipperary are so motivated.”

He maintains the Kilkenny public have to give this group of players time. “The worst thing we can do is compare them to the team that won all the All-Irelands. I’ll never forget when we were starting off around 2006, after losing for two years, we were talking a lot about the great team that won in 2002 and 2003. We just said to ourselves, forget about them lads — we’re the new guys.

“The management and players got together and said we’re going to look forward from now on. That’s what the Kilkenny guys have to do. Forget about the guys that were there in the past, they’re gone. This is a new team. Just compare them versus themselves. Judge them against themselves and let them progress at their own level.”

Walsh’s brother Padraig has performed well in his new full-back berth and Tommy wouldn’t be surprised if he is kept there by Cody. “He wouldn’t have played full-back (in the past). I think the modern game is a bit different now. They way forwards move, it’s no longer conventional where the six forwards line up in their positions. It’s just constant movement.

“Even if you’re corner-back you could spend half an hour at full-back, when you’re wing-back you could be back in the full-back line. His more natural position is probably around the middle third but the way the game has gone now you have to be able to play anywhere.

“He has done well. I don’t know (if he’ll stay full-back), who knows? It will depend on the form of the team. If the team starts building momentum and starts playing well together as a unit, there might not be many changes at all.”

  • The 15th series of Laochra Gael begins on TG4 with Dónal Óg Cusack featured on Wednesday next. Walsh’s programme will be televised later in the series.

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