Donnchadh Walsh has become the first of Kerry’s thirtysomethings to publicly make themselves available for next season. Touted for his first All-Star, the Cromane man, who is 32 next summer, confirmed he hopes to be lining out in the green and gold again in 2016.
“The curve is still on the way up for me so once it is, no matter what kind of line of work you’re in, you want to stay on that crest of a wave. Obviously, your gut is telling you ‘why are you putting yourself through it when you don’t win’. It’s like all this effort without any reward.
“At the moment, you don’t want to think about anything but after a few weeks and months that will change.”
As for his elder team-mates — Paul Galvin (36 in November), Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony (both 36 next year) and Kieran Donaghy (34 in 2016) — Walsh hopes they will remain involved in some capacity.
“Even after last year, they were saying ‘oh, these lads will go out on a high’ but it’s so hard to replace fellas. Even Tomás Ó Sé, Eoin Brosnan, they weren’t easily replaced. They were a big loss from the dressing room as was Declan O’Sullivan.
“It’s up to fellas themselves. They know when it’s time but I’d be encouraging them to stay on because no matter what kind of contribution they can give it will be worth it. It’s not just what they can offer on the field but what they can offer off it too. Their experience... they can be as big an influence as a coach or a manager.”
The bitter taste of Sunday’s below-par performance won’t leave Walsh in a hurry, though. The conditions didn’t help but he accepts Kerry should have had an advantage having played in poor weather against Tyrone in the semi-final.
“Hats off to Dublin, they didn’t let us perform. Conditions were tough for both teams but we definitely made more mistakes while our shooting was off. We made simple errors, things like turnovers. We knew they’d punish us if we did that. They punished us in 2013 and they punished us again on Sunday. It’s very disappointing. It won’t sit well with us for a while.”
Walsh, though, appreciates the pain will sustain Kerry through the winter months as they look towards next season. “Hunger is something that drives every team. You get more out of yourself the hungrier you are. That’ll help us next year but next year is a long way away from now.”
Walsh admitted he would have been devastated had Éamonn Fitzmaurice decided not to continue as manager.
Speaking before Fitzmaurice confirmed last night that he would remain on at the helm, Walsh said: “I’d be gutted if he was to leave. But that’s his decision. It’s a management decision and it’s as big a commitment as it is for a player. It’s absolutely huge for a manager. He’ll make the right decision for himself and I just hope it’s the one that will see him staying on.”
Meanwhile, Killian Young insists Kerry will learn from the county’s third consecutive championship defeat to Dublin. “It’s very hard to take but they are a great bunch, those young fellas, they are determined men. I’m sure we’ll put down the heads down, reflect on that and come back stronger.”
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