"It took my body a long time to get used to that" - Toughest part of GAA after AFL
Last weekend was the first we'd heard of Tommy Walsh in a long time.
Once an underage prodigy, the AFL explorer's Kerry career never really hit the heights again once he returned home to the Kingdom. A nightmare hamstring injury when he was in his pomp at 26 Down Under undoubtedly hindered him, and finally, after a few tough and long years, Walsh, now 30 is back enjoying his football again.
And on Sunday last he was showing it in Fitzgerald Stadium when his 2-2 and his trademark powerful direct-running inspired his club to an underdog victory over Kerry kingpins Dr Crokes.
GAANOW looks to @Kerry_Official Club SFC as Kerins O'Rahillys overcame Dr. Crokes 3-18 to 2-17 at Fitzgerald Stadium! @drcrokesgaa were ahead by nine points with ten minutes to go, but two Tommy Walsh goals and another by Karl Mullins in stoppage-time saw @korgaa take the win! pic.twitter.com/dM0BGmqMPB
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 11, 2018
"I haven't missed any games with the club this year, that's probably made the whole thing a little bit more enjoyable for me," he said to Colm Parkinson on Thursday's GAA Hour Show.
"There's less pressure at that level. It's probably been the first time since 2012/2013 that I've been able to play a consistent batch of games."
His club Kerins O'Rahilly's are 15/2 shots with Paddy Power for this year and by the sound of things, those are decent odds for a team who are finally clicking.
"We've probably been underachieving over the last couple of years. We've a very good squad with a lot of inter-county guys but we've never really put it together," said Walsh.
They were down by ten points against Crokes, came back to win and that will surely stand them in good stead as the year progresses.
"There's a long way to go yet, we're only in the quarter finals, but it's all ahead of us hopefully. Our inter-county guys are coming back, they played well at the weekend."
Indeed, the Tralee club have plenty of star talent. From the mercurial Barry John Keane in the inside line to Jack Savage alongside him. Then David Moran calls the shots in midfield with the rejuvenated Walsh in form too.
"Barry John Keane kicked six from play, David Moran was good around the middle, Jack Savage played well in the second half...they've been doing that for us this year," added Walsh.
They'll be there or thereabouts when it comes down to it.
Tommy Walsh still has to nurse his injury four years on https://t.co/GggMWmAN4R
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 13, 2018
As for himself, Walsh endured a few frustrating years upon his return to Ireland. That nagging injury took a while to come right and he found the public glare was always directed on him because he was the returning one.
"When you're playing Gaelic football or hurling, you still have to do your day-job, you're still interacting with people on the street. There wasn't a person that I met that wouldn't ask me what's going on, why aren't you playing, and you're just giving the political answer all the time."
On top of that, the transition from a professional lifestyle to an amateur one was difficult, and he discovered the rushing and racing to training all the time the toughest change to re-acclimatise to.
It certainly wouldn't have been ideal for a man nursing a hamstring that had been ripped off the bone and is still only 75 to 80%.
"I'd gone from a professional sport to trying to work a day job. I'm living in Cork so I was travelling over an hour to training, it took my body a long time to get used to that again."
"The biggest thing for me was that I'd be able to play sport at some level again."
You can listen to the Walsh interview, and much more from Thursday's GAA Hour Show right here.