Aidan Walsh is reaping the rewards since quitting football to concentrate on hurling with Cork
No juggling, no switching between codes and no two masters.
Physically, Aidan Walsh says the decision to abandon dual status for 2015 has had little or no impact on his body. An equal number of training sessions have been attended, the gym hours clocked are no different to what they would have been this time last year. This notion that his workload would considerably lessen by virtue of dispensing with the football gloves is nonsense.
Mentally, Aidan Walsh couldn’t be fresher.
No longer is a heavy weight pushing down on his shoulders, no longer is he worrying are team-mates talking behind his back in relation to his split focus, no longer is he worrying which manager must he impress and on what week must he impress them.
The 25-year old didn’t travel to Dublin for last Sunday’s football league decider against Dublin. A text was circulated to former team-mates wishing good luck and though keen to attend, hurling commitments dictated he watched the game from his Kanturk base.
He has started all seven league games since early February, close to seven hours and 33 minutes of action. By close of April last year, Aidan Walsh had made two appearances for the Cork hurlers. He was substituted in both, one hour and 53 minutes spent on the field.
He finds himself to be more of a Cork hurler this year, a Cork hurler in every sense. Around half of the squad are using his hurls and Walsh enjoys shooting the breeze when a fellow panellist calls into the workshop in Kanturk to collect their order.
“Mentally, I am in a very good place at the moment, in a much better place than I was last year,” says Walsh.
“I am just able to focus on what I need to do and where I need to be with regard to hurling. This year, I am trying to please one less manager and one less group of lads. It is still very intense, but enjoyable all the same.”
Integration into Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s camp has been successfully achieved.
“I really have got to know all the lads very well. Last year, if there was bad blood from the subs at me coming in, only doing have the sessions and still making the team, that was totally understandable.
“This year, I am there all the time and showing what I am about. Once I am there I will get to know the lads even better and I am really enjoying it.
“Making hurleys is a big help. It is another avenue to get to know fellas. They are calling down to the shop and we’d be chatting away about everything and anything. It helps to get to know lads better, besides meeting them only at training. I still have to convince a few – to use the hurleys that is, but I am happy enough at present.
We would be having slagging matches with the lads not using them, but that is all just a bit of craic.”
So, no regrets then?
“Not one. I haven’t looked back once. For me, it was a decision I had to make. I am glad I made it. It wasn’t a case the hurlers were better than the footballers, I just felt I wanted to try the hurling and see how it went for the year.
“I still keep in contact with the footballers. Any chance I get to see them or meet with them, I always have a great chat with them. People think there would be bad blood because of my decision. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They all know where I was coming from. I was very lucky to win all I did with the footballers. I just felt there was an opportunity there for me to see how I could go with the hurling.”
Having started all seven league games, featured in Cork’s run to the Waterford Crystal decider and Cork IT’s Fitzgibbon Cup campaign, Walsh is comfortable in the knowledge he has established himself on the inter-county scene and even more confident he has performed sufficiently to end references to the 2011 Munster U21 decider.
“I am not yet where I would like to be. I do feel, however, I have established myself because last year people were constantly harking back to that U21 game. They had nothing else to go on. People know now what I am about. This time last year in the league I was well off it. Against Limerick and Offaly I was way off it. This year, I am much further on. I am working towards my top form, I am happy where I am at present.”
Walsh is expecting a baptism of fire in his debut league hurling final appearance tomorrow afternoon. Waterford’s system of crowding midfield will, to put it mildly, ensure a taxing afternoon.
“I’d say the tackle count will be extremely high,” he quips. “They are flying at the moment. They have been the story of the league. I am looking forward to the game. It will be a big test on a big occasion.
“There is going to be a massive crowd in Thurles. These are the games you want to be involved in. These national league titles are hard come by. “Cork haven’t won a Division 1 title since 1998. By Cork’s standards, that isn’t good enough. It is a national title, we want to bring a winning mentality into the dressing room and that means winning big games like Sunday.”
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