rejuvenated | 

How Galway’s Shane Walsh is relishing his growing familiarity with Croke Park

Theo Clancy, left, and Shane Walsh of Kilmacud Crokes celebrate after their AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-final win over Kerins O'Rahillys at Croke Park. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


For years Croke Park was a venue where Shane Walsh rarely got to play more than once in a season. If he was lucky he might get there twice or three times as was the case with Galway in 2018.

But there were years too when he didn’t see the place at all.

But Galway’s resurgence last summer and his subsequent move from his home club Kilkerrin-Clonberne to Kilmacud Crokes, allied to a preference for the Leinster Council and the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) to play more games at headquarters, means it has become a home from home for him.

Three games with Galway there in a four-week period last summer, and now a fourth game with Crokes as they seek to exorcise the ghost of last year’s last-gasp defeat to Kilcoo with an All-Ireland final against Derry’s Glen in two weeks’ time, have heightened his familiarity with the place.

“For the first probably seven or eight years of my career I had only played one game at Croke Park so to be playing three or four games in the last couple of months is lovely,” he said.

And it has helped him to get his bearings in the place.

​“The way the wind travels in Croke Park, it’s something that you can kind of educate lads around that maybe haven’t experienced it before so little things like that are valuable and obviously getting used to dressing-rooms, the warm-up area is different, you don’t get to go out on the pitch for as long before a game, things like that.

“When you build a routine it’s huge because the team knows straight away what they’re going in to do.”

Walsh was at home in Galway watching the drama of last year’s final unfold but echoes his manager Robbie Brennan’s belief that they can learn from that and from their survival in a nervy finish last weekend against Kerins O’Rahillys in their semi-final.

“It’s like driving a car and looking through the rearview mirror, if you keep looking that way the same things will happen again so we need to keep ploughing forward and work on the mistakes we’ve made.”

Walsh only confirmed his move east to the south city side days after Galway’s All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry but the dream of an All-Ireland club final was something he always had, even if it was with his home club.

“I was always one that probably lived in the world of fantasy, always hoping to play in an All-Ireland club final some day.

“Times change. I’m sitting in a very lucky position that I’m in a dressing-room that’s building for an All-Ireland club final so obviously Kilmacud were very close last year, they’ve a history of winning before. It’s just a great place to be in.”

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