Welcome to the Shane Walsh show - Kerry win All-Ireland but Galway star shone brightest
A performance for the ages.
Galway threw everything they had at Kerry but in the end, it was the depth of the Kingdom's squad that proved to be the difference.
Substitutes such as Killian Spillane had the sort of influence that you can only dream of having when you're sitting on the bench.
However, one player above everyone else stood out, and that was the Tribesmen's incredible Shane Walsh, who put on a jaw-dropping display in Croke Park on Sunday.
In the lead-up to this final, Walsh faced many critics for his performances against Derry and Armagh in the semi and quarter-finals.
Despite his clinical free-taking and important scores, he wasn't setting the world alight, was getting too involved with those tasked to mark him, and didn't live up to his own very high standards.
Walsh heard the critics and answered every one of them today, kicking an incredible nine points, some of which were from outrageous angles.
"That's the point of the Championship"
Shane Walsh injects pace and curls it beautifully with power and accuracy
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Those who said he couldn't stand up on the big day, or that he can be marked out of the game, were made to eat their words.
Man-marked by Tom O'Sullivan - Kerry's main stopper and a genuine contender for Player of the Year - the Kilkerrin-Clonberne club man turned and twisted him inside out, in what must have been one of the longest games of the defender's life.
One point early in the second half saw him sit O'Sullivan on his backside, before he swung over an absolute beauty, announcing to everyone in Croke Park that this is the Shane Walsh we have been waiting on.
The way he can accelerate from zero to 100 from a standing position is frightening, and if he made commission for selling dummies he would be a millionaire, but all of the flash and style is nothing without substance, and Walsh had plenty of that today.
Like Cristiano Ronaldo in his early days at Manchester United, when he was a bag of tricks, pace and skills, he lacked efficiency in front of the net, until Alex Ferguson turned him into a finely balanced goal machine - today felt like the end of that metamorphosis for Walsh.
At the other end however, David Clifford was putting in an almost equally incredible performance, kicking eight points, winning marks and coming up with crucial scores at crucial times.
Lovely moment as Shane Walsh’s mother consoles him after the game. She can only be proud after her son put in one of the great All-Ireland final displays pic.twitter.com/5tLFvVLBAJ
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) July 24, 2022
At times it looked like it was a case of Walsh vs Clifford, and absolutely no one was complaining about it, as Croke Park was graced by the brilliance of these two modern warriors.
In the end, it was Kerry's day and although his clinical performance won't give Walsh much comfort as he leaves Dublin without an All-Ireland medal, those who attended the game can go home content that the admission fee was well worth it, and we all know that that isn't always the case.
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