Teddy McCarthy has described Aidan Walsh’s decision to play both football and hurling for Cork next year as a major boost for Jimmy Barry-Murphy but a further “body blow” for Brian Cuthbert.
The former dual star is excited about the prospect of the 2011 U21 hurler of the year splitting his commitments between the two teams having played football exclusively at senior level since his debut in 2009.
While the Kanturk man insists that football will be his priority, McCarthy knows it is a far from an ideal situation for Cuthbert.
But as a long-time supporter of fellow dual players, he is pleased to see Walsh being facilitated to play both codes at the highest level.
“I’m delighted for him. I’d be of the opinion that there should be a process in the GAA to allow dual players to be available for the counties. But it’s a lot more difficult now because of the backdoor system and the demands at club level.
“Aidan’s going to be a huge addition to Cork hurling. I had him for a year when I was involved in the U21s and for the little hurling he played he made a big impact. He was probably more dedicated to football at that time but we all knew the talent he had. He’s a unique athlete.”
That being said, McCarthy recognises Walsh’s decision is an extra concern for new football manager Cuthbert.
Although Cuthbert is supportive of the player’s plans to juggle his time, it comes after the mass retirements of Graham Canty, Noel O’Leary, Paudie Kissane, Alan Quirke and Pearse O’Neill as well as Ciarán Sheehan’s decision to join AFL club Carlton.
“It’s a bit difficult for Brian at the moment,” said McCarthy. “Six of them have gone from the panel, five for their own reasons and Ciarán Sheehan going to Australia.
“It’s a huge, tall order for Cuthbert. Obviously, a lot of us would have known some players were coming towards the end of their Cork careers but you wouldn’t have expected them to all go at the same time.
“Aidan dividing his loyalties is a body blow for Brian simply because he won’t have his services all of the time. But it’s recognition of what a special player he is.”
McCarthy knows the extra commitment will add pressure on Walsh’s shoulders. “It will be difficult for him. He’s 24 (next year) and won’t have played at this level before so it will be a big step-up.”
But the four-time All-Ireland winner knows just how big an asset he will be once he finds his feet in Barry-Murphy’s set-up.
“He’s an elusive player. Not alone does he play wing forward and is great in the air but he brings pace too.
“He’ll bring huge experience from playing football and will be used to the big crowds that will hopefully be part of Cork’s season again next year.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved