Aidan Walsh admits he doesn’t yet know if he will be in university next year because he will be ineligible for a scholarship in DCU.
The Cork midfielder, the star in the county’s dramatic win over Down on Sunday, can’t line out for any of the Dublin college’s teams due to a rule which states that no player can represent a third level institution if they have enrolled in more than two college courses.
Walsh’s current four-year degree course in physical education and biology is his third after he dropped out of building service engineering after five months and then studied recreation and leisure for three years in Cork IT.
Despite a lengthy appeal process, which went to the Disputes Resolution Authority, the Kanturk man has been left hoping the rule will be amended. Otherwise, he and his family will be faced with making up the shortfall in the absence of a scholarship, which he received for this university year.
“If I can’t play next year I won’t be able to get one [a scholarship], which will have an effect on my family, my parents,” said Walsh.
Asked he will be able to stay in DCU, Walsh said: “I don’t know. It’s expensive in Dublin and there’s a lot of expense in terms of accommodation and everything, and like that, it will affect a lot more people, not just me.
“It will affect a lot of people around the country in the next few years, especially with the way things are going with the economy, everything is so dear. Trying to live up in Dublin, it will affect people that way as well.”
Having acted as water carrier for DCU last month, Walsh is aggrieved that so many other players have gone before him and enjoyed several years of Sigerson Cup football.
“I suppose what annoys me the most is that I only got to play two years of Sigerson, there were a lot of people out there who’ve played five or six.
“It’s an amateur game and all you want to do is play a bit of football for your college, it’s not that big of a deal really because you’re not committing a crime.
“DCU have been very good to me and it would be nice to give something back to them. I can’t see what the big deal is about it. I suppose DCU probably have a bad name up there because big inter-county players come to them, whereas smaller colleges would be giving out about that.
“But DCU have always, always done everything by the book. I was never approached by them or anything. It was just what they had to offer in the college.
“It’s just disappointing that people are trying to stop you from playing football. There are people out there that are just like that and that’s their agenda.”
It’s some consolation that Walsh, last Sunday, played the first of four games with Cork this month, a match in which he saved the team’s hide. His winning of a ball in injury-time was the catalyst for Ciarán Sheehan’s winning goal.
“Conor and the selectors have always said never give up, no matter what happens, keep going. It looked like they were passing the ball to themselves and trying to kill time.
“We just went for it. Other days it probably wouldn’t have come off but it did that day. I couldn’t believe when I looked up and Fintan [Goold] was in 20 yards of space inside their 45. It just came off.
“I suppose when Fintan took the shot it was nearly going wide,” smiled Walsh, “and Ciarán popped up. A pure stroke of luck but we’ll take it. It’s a great way to win but an awful way to lose.”
Walsh readily accepts Cork have to improve drastically. “On Sunday for periods of the game we played some very good football and at the start of the second half we really stepped it up. But we sat back again and we have to figure out why we’re doing that, if we keep doing it, the bigger teams will punish even more. So it’s something that we have to work on.”
The 23-year-old accepts the semi-finals are a long shot right now. “We would be just delighted to stay up, considering the position we are in. Dublin and Kildare and Tyrone have three wins under their belt.
“Coming down to the last game or two, if it is possible to get into the semi-finals, we will be gunning for that. We are just looking towards next weekend now. It is my first time ever playing against Tyrone so I am looking forward to that.”
Walsh is enjoying playing alongside his hotel room-mate, Graham Canty, in midfield and hopes the partnership continues.
“He is constantly talking and giving you advice. Even just rooming with him for the weekend away together, it’s been a great presence and a great fella to be around. Anything he says to you, you take it — you concentrate even more when he says it. It’s just brilliant. Even there yesterday playing with him, it raises you another level and that’s what you want. I hope to get play with him more. Graham is more of a defensive player than myself, really. He sits back a bit more and give me more freedom to go forward. It’s a kind of a new thing we’ve been doing and hopefully we’ll get another few games with it.”
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