Tommy Walsh, when removing himself from the Kerry panel following the league final defeat in 2016, told then-manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice he didn’t feel his Kerry story was over.
Recalled to the Kingdom set-up by Peter Keane, Walsh’s third coming as a Kerry footballer took off during the second-half of Sunday’s come-from-behind All-Ireland semi-final win.
In just his third championship appearance of the summer, all of which have come from the bench, Walsh provided the assist for David Moran and David Clifford points on 53 and 55 minutes respectively, crucial scores which brought the Munster champions back level with Tyrone for the first time since the quarter-hour mark.
The 31-year old also won two kick-outs, while his very presence at the edge of the square released Clifford from the tight clutches of Ronan McNamee, allowing the 2018 young footballer of the year to slot three points in the final quarter.
Fitzmaurice, who also believed back in 2016 that Walsh’s Kerry career had another chapter still to run, said the Dublin defence will fear the six-foot-plus Kerins O’Rahilly’s man.
I was thinking about him on Sunday night. When he was finishing up with us after the league final in 2016, [because] he felt he needed to go back to the club, he said to me, ‘I don’t feel my Kerry story is over’. I said ‘I agree with you, I don’t think it is either,’” Fitzmaurice recalled on the Irish Examiner GAA podcast.
“I am delighted for him because when he was in with us and it didn’t quite work out, he was so professional, so courteous, there were no sour grapes, there was no throwing his toys out of the cot. He gave it everything, he felt it wasn’t working out, and he wanted to go back [to his club].
“He did so well on Sunday. He is a real player of significance again for Kerry. And the Dubs fear him. They won’t like to see him coming. He gives them something that can cause them problems.”
Walsh has seen just over 70 minutes of game-time this summer but his display on Sunday has parachuted him into the reckoning for a final start, what would be his first championship start since the 2009 All-Ireland final win over Cork.
His Kerins O’Rahilly’s club manager Mike Quirke insists Walsh won’t mind if he isn’t starting.
“I don’t think he’ll care,” said Quirke. “Sunday’s game, a semi-final, that’s meaningful, that’s big-time action for Tommy. That validates his decision to get back involved after Peter Keane rang him at the start of the year and when a lot of people probably advised him against it and said, maybe it is not going to work out. But now he has a bit of belief and confidence in himself and it is nice to see that courage rewarded.”