Shane Walsh survives baptism by fire in Dublin championship as Kilmacud Crokes beat Cuala
Kilmacud Crokes 0-14 1-09 Cuala
Not many gave Cuala a chance when they drew Kilmacud Crokes in the quarter finals of the Senior Dublin Championship.
With Galway superstar Shane Walsh being added to the incredible roster that the club already have, such as Paul Mannion, Rory O'Carroll and Craig Dias, people are already talking about this side winning an All-Ireland.
Cuala had other ideas however, and they were absolutely relentless throughout the 60 minutes, tackling with intensity and stopping Crokes from really getting going.
Mick Fitzsimons was like a man possessed in full back, diving for every half-ball, colliding head first into everyone wearing purple, and refusing outright to let anyone near his goal.
With only a point in it going into the second half, Crokes had all of the ball but couldn't stretch out a big enough lead to stay comfortable and then Con O'Callaghan sparked his team into life with a fine point from play.
It was his brother, Niall, however, who really brought the temperature to boiling point, cutting through their defence and slotting the ball into the net with a very clever finish to make things all square.
A double blow in 60 seconds for champions Crokes. Paul Mannion is forced off through injury, Niall O'Callaghan finds the net for Cuala
📺 Watch live coverage of @KCrokesGAAClub v @CualaCLG in the Dublin SFC quarter-finals on @RTE2 and @RTEplayer https://t.co/eReU6snW0Y #GAA pic.twitter.com/sRZlkBfa6D
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) September 17, 2022
Dias was winning everything in the middle of the park, and although Mannion was in his usual fine form, he had to be carried off shortly after Callaghan's goal with an ankle injury.
Suddenly, the reigning Dublin champions looked like they were lacking substance in front of the posts, and all eyes turned to Shane Walsh - although admittedly, many eyes were already on him.
With such media coverage and hype surrounding the Tribesman and his transfer to the club, everyone was fascinated to see how he would fair out in the capital.
The honest answer is that he struggled to begin with, missing frees, 45s, and even losing possession on a couple occasions.
Cuala clearly ear-marked him as a threat that needed to be dealt with from early on, and he had to ship some massive hits, deal with awkward tackles and shake off an ankle injury.
However, the forward preserved, kept demanding to be on the ball, worked his socks off tracking back and then in the latter stages of the game, when it his team needed him the most, he stepped up.
An outrageous point from well outside the D gave his side some breathing room, and then an awkward free kick at the death all but secured Kilmacud Crokes place in the semi-final.
It wasn't a vintage performance, but they got the job done and with Walsh brushing the cobwebs off, getting sharper and fitter every week, this Crokes team might do what few GAA teams can - live up to their own hype.