ANOTHER All-Ireland Ladies football final, another trip to Croke Park for Cork and Angela Walsh.
The Munster champions head to GAA HQ looking for a fifth consecutive senior title, and Walsh knows the road well. Four championship medals and four All-Star awards later, yet still the thirst hasn’t been sated.
Walsh’s exploits haven’t been confined to the one code. She was a member of the Cork senior camogie team, winning two medals from three appearances in finals until she decided to give up hurling to concentrate on football after the 2007 season.
She explained: “When I was doing both, it was every night of the week and I rarely saw family and friends. It was very tough. I take my hat off to Rena (Buckley), and to Mary (O’Connor) and Briege (Corkery) for still doing it. I would love to have been there and maybe if I was based in Cork it might have been easier. But being based in Dungarvan, the travelling would have been too much.”
Cork’s run of underage victories at provincial and All-Ireland level formed the basis for the rapid progress of the senior team. But Walsh insists Eamonn Ryan’s coaching has been crucial in capturing the last four All-Irelands and four league titles.
“He’s an absolute inspiration, he has been so good to us. He brought fresh ideas. People ask us about hunger and how we keep it going. Eamonn Ryan is the man! He is absolutely brilliant. The first year we won a Munster was 2004 and that year we got beaten by Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
“At that time they were the kingpins of ladies football. Afterwards, while we were disappointed that we hadn’t fought a better contest there, we realised we had potential to go on and challenge the ladies football world.
“In 2005, we came back and we haven’t looked back since. An awful lot of the credit is due to Eamonn Ryan.!”
On Sunday Cork defend their title again and Walsh hopes that their experience will help to offset the advantage Dublin will have playing in Croke Park. And she hopes the challenge they received in a semi-final win over Mayo will also prove beneficial. “It was a really tough, physical match and it could have gone either way. Mayo never gave up. Then Briege got a goal and that really secured it for us.”
Angela wasn’t surprised to see Dublin make the final: “They are the only team that have beaten us two years running in the National League. They’ll want to win it as much as us!”
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