Football

Kilmacud winning run helping me enjoy football again: Shane Walsh

Shane Walsh in action for Kilmacud Croke's.
Shane Walsh in action for Kilmacud Croke's. Shane Walsh in action for Kilmacud Croke's.

AIB Leinster Club SFC final: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-14 Naas (Kildare) 0-10

Shane Walsh says Kilmacud Crokes’ run to a third consecutive Leinster football title has helped him to enjoy football again.

The controversy surrounding the Galway star’s transfer to the Dublin giants last year left a weight on his shoulders which he is now beginning to release.

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Walsh’s end-to-end wonder goal to wrap up Saturday’s final against Naas was evidence for his rekindled enjoyment of the game.

With time all but up, he dribbled past one bamboozled defender, picked the ball at halfway without bending his back, and survived a cynical jersey pull before rolling the ball into the unguarded net from an acute angle.

That took his tally to 1-8 and sealed Crokes’ record-equalling seventh Leinster club football title.

“Mentally, last year was like a year that never happened before with the craic with the transfer and that. That took a huge weight off my shoulders once that finished,” said Walsh.

“I had an inter-county season to come back into, which wasn’t ideal for me personally. You’re trying to put that to the back of your mind. But mentally, you nearly have the eyes of the country watching you for six months.

“Some were probably hoping you’d fail. So for me, it was about every day you’re going out, trying to get over that line.

“This year has been completely different. I probably had a stinker of an inter-county season but, look, that’s more motivation for me to come back next year and put that right.

“It’s all about building now for me at this moment in time.”

He now has an All-Ireland semi-final to look forward to in the new year against the Ulster champions, Glen or Scotstown, before going back in with Galway.

“The motivation is you’re loving every game of football you play,” said Walsh.

“During the year, it was probably hard to enjoy football that much. It’s just that freshness now and getting back to enjoying my football.

“That’s where I feel I’m at my best – when I’m enjoying it. Whereas when you’re putting the pressure on yourself and you feel the pressure, it weighs on you.

“Often you just have to get out and do it and just start coming back and enjoying it again.

“That’s probably the big thing for me. Once I’m enjoying football, I don’t think about it at all. I don’t worry about the number of games I have to play.

“If I had to play a hundred games, I’d play a hundred games. It’s just about enjoying it.”

Kilmacud Crokes: D Higgins; D O’Brien, T Clancy, R O’Carroll (0-1); C O’Connor, A McGowan, M O’Leary; B Sheehy, C Dias (0-1); S Horan (0-2), P Mannion (0-1 free), D Mullin (0-1); H Kenny, S Cunningham (capt.), S Walsh (1-8, 0-5 frees).

Substitutes: D Murphy for Kenny (h-t); C Pearson for Mullin (38); L Ward for Cunningham (50); D Dempsey for O’Connor (50); J Murphy for Dias (58).

Naas: L Mullins; M Maguire, C McCarthy, C Daly; B Byrne, E Doyle (capt.), E Prizeman; Paul McDermott (0-1), J Burke; J McKevitt, A Beirne (0-4, 1 free), Paddy McDermott; S Hanafin, D Kirwan (0-4, 1 free), D Hanafin (0-1).

Substitutes: K Cummins for Paul McDermott (50); T Browne for Prizeman (50); N Aherne for D Hanafin (58); S Cullen for McKevitt (60).

Red card: A Beirne (60+3).

Referee: David Hickey (Carlow).