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Former Mayo Footballer Understands The Shane Walsh Dilemma

Former Mayo Footballer Understands The Shane Walsh Dilemma
By PJ Browne Updated

Over the weekend it emerged that Shane Walsh could be set to leave Kilkerrin-Clonberne and join Kilmacud Crokes. The Irish Independent reported that the Galway forward, fresh off scoring nine points in the All-Ireland final, is seeking a transfer. (On Monday evening, Walsh confirmed his desire to switch clubs.)

It was news which caused much debate, especially due to the nature of the move: One of the country's best players would be leaving his childhood rural club to join one of the country's biggest teams.

It tore at the very heart of a central ethos of the GAA, that it is about the local, and these star players line out for the clubs where they started their underage careers. Kilkerrin-Clonberne chairman Ian Hynes vowed that the club would "fight this all the way".

For Shane Walsh, it seems that the move is a practical one. He lives in Dublin where he is studying to be a PE teacher. Playing with Kilkerrin-Clonberne in this year's Galway Intermediate Championship would mean regular four-hour round trips for training and matches.

'If Shane Walsh wants to move, inevitably he will get his move'

Former Mayo footballer Conor Mortimer understands Walsh's dilemma. A decade ago, he left Shrule/Glencorrib to join Dublin club Parnells.

"Going on what the chairman said, I don't think that's the most beneficial way to go," Mortimer told RTÉ Radio One's Sunday Sport.

"There's no point having a player who wants to play somewhere else. Besides trying to force his hand to keep him in his club...

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"I can understand their situation. I didn't have that with my club when I left. There was more work in Dublin than there was in the west at that time for me. I had no problems with my club.

"It can go one of two ways: Amicably or it can get very, very messy. They are the only two ways out of it. It's so public now, and the chairman has said what he's said, I don't think that's going to reflect well on the club in the long run.

"If Shane Walsh wants to move, inevitably he will get his move regardless of how the club do it. Technically, they can block it.

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"You're probably not going to have the player playing for you. Is that the end goal for the chairman, to not have Shane Walsh playing club football? That would be a travesty to Shane, and people around the country who want to see his calibre on the football pretty regularly."

24 July 2022; Shane Walsh of Galway after his side's defeat in the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Mortimer continued: "We're all amateur players, and we're not contracted to play with any particular team. Kilkerrin is his local club, the same as Shrule was mine.

"This wouldn't have been an easy decision for him to make. He's based in Dublin. The way the seasons are now, do you want to commute for the second half of the year, up and down the same as you did for your county? I think that was probably one of the deciding factors in his decision to want a transfer.

"The way people are nowadays, the work-life balance is hugely important. More players are looking for that balance. That's probably what he's aiming to do.

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"It's irrelevant what level his club at home are playing as opposed to what Kilmacud Crokes are. He'll be competing for senior championships in Dublin, probably not doing the same at home. I don't think that's the overriding factor in his decision to want to leave.

"I did it myself for 10 years, travelling up and down. And it takes a toll on the body. It's very tough. It might be a Sunday morning game, and you're at home on a Saturday evening in Dublin, and know you have to drive down on a Sunday to play the game, and then drive back. It takes up a lot of your time, and a lot of your life."

See Also: Graham O'Sullivan Pays Tribute To Underage Teammate As Kerry Celebrate

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