I’d start Walsh because Dubs can’t handle him says Kerry legend Jacko
Kerry legend Jack O’Shea believes Dublin’s inability to counteract the threat of a rejuvenated Tommy Walsh could help the Kingdom to get over the line in Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC final replay.
Having dropped off the panel following the completion of the 2016 National League, Walsh returned to the inter-county scene this year.
His appearance as a second-half substitute in last Sunday week’s draw encounter injected fresh life into the Kerry challenge and O’Shea feels the Kerins O’Rahilly’s man has done enough to earn a starting place.
“I’d definitely start Tommy Walsh if I was involved. The reason I’d start him is because I think Dublin don’t have a player to mark him. I’d definitely start him from the beginning. That’d be my theory on it. Whether they do or they don’t, I don’t know,” O’Shea said.
“People are saying, ‘Tommy Walsh, you bring him on for 20 minutes’. But why can’t you start him? He might last for the 70 minutes. He could last for 60 minutes.
“The way he’s been playing the last few games, the ball is going into him and he’s winning them or getting to them.
“He will create panic. He’ll also create a headache for Dublin, who they’re going to put onto him.”
O’Shea was in Croke Park yesterday with former on-pitch rivals Barney Rock (Dublin) and David Beggy (Meath) to launch the inaugural Iron Games – held later this month to raise vital funds for the Irish Haemochromatosis Association (IHA).
After being quite positive about Kerry’s chances in the build-up to their original clash, O’Shea maintained they are still capable of stopping Dublin’s ‘drive for five’.
“I think they missed a chance of winning the game the last day. They were lucky in the end because Dublin had two or three chances.
“I was very happy leaving Croke Park, because I have actually felt all this year that Kerry have been getting better with every game.
“Dublin are saying some of their big players didn’t perform, but why didn’t they perform? Jim Gavin has a question now this week – did these fellas have a bad day, or where they outplayed? I thought Kerry had a good game plan in place and for 65 minutes they were really there with a great chance and put themselves in a great position.
“They’ll have gained confidence from the last day that they can get up there and compete.
“They have asked the questions of Dublin, and Dublin showed huge character to come back into the game because it looked like it was going away from them with 14 men.
“The extra man of course was a huge help in the second half and I think Kerry will have gained experience from that.”
While the presence of his son Dean in the Dublin attack ensured Rock was understandably coy throughout the event, he did draw on his own experience of replays in the past.
En route to his sole All-Ireland triumph in 1983, he was part of a Sky Blues side that edged out Cork in a semi-final replay down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
However, he suffered heartbreak at the hands of Meath eight years later – when the Royals squeezed past their Leinster rivals in an epic four-game saga at GAA HQ.
“Certainly the ’83 one was great for us because it was the first time we were ever out of Croke Park.
“We went down there and we’d a great weekend.
:The result was brilliant, the day was brilliant. I can’t say the same about ’91,” Rock remembered.
“In ’91 we had a great chance to win all the matches. We missed a penalty in the last one, Keith Barr.
“We were four points up and at the time I was on the sideline and I said to the lads ‘listen tell him to pop it over the bar. Because if he puts it over the bar, there’s five points in it and Meath have to score three times to beat us’.
“Instead of that, we went for the score and all of a sudden Meath went down and got 1-2. Had we put it over the bar, it would have been [another] drawn match.”