• Home
  • /
  • GAA
  • /
  • Kilmacud Crokes Ignored 'Mud Thrown' Over Shane Walsh Transfer

Kilmacud Crokes Ignored 'Mud Thrown' Over Shane Walsh Transfer

Proud sponsors of the Dublin GAA Club Championships, Go-Ahead Ireland today hosted a media event with Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes and Alasdar Fitzgerald of Na Fianna pictured ahead of Sunday’s Go-Ahead Dublin Senior Football Championship final taking place in Parnell Park at 4.30pm. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

By PJ Browne Updated
Share this article

It's a busy time at Kilmacud Crokes. Their footballers and hurlers are aiming to do the Dublin double double. They have finals, both against Na Fianna, coming up over the next two weekends. Last month, their ladies football team won their first ever Dublin senior title, and on Sunday play a Leinster quarter-final against Meath champions Dunboyne.

"There’s big fighting going on in terms of pitch availability alright," says Kilmacud Crokes forward Shane Cunningham at a media day for the Go-Ahead Ireland Dublin Senior Football Championship final.

"I wouldn’t fancy being in charge of that. There’s all sorts of teams fighting for slots, but look it’s great to see.

"We have lights there now in Páirc De Búrca and it’s really good to be training down there. I know, when I was younger, my dad used to always say it’d shorten the winter when Crokes were on a run in Dublin or in Leinster."

Last season saw Crokes win their first Dublin football championship since 2018, and reach their first All-Ireland final since 2009. The latter ended in crushing disappointment after Kilcoo scored an injury time goal in extra-time to claim the title.

"The way we lost last year was heartbreaking and getting over it was tough," says Cunningham.

"The week after is a blur and after that you’re reflecting on how you lost it and how to make things better. You’ve a period of time where you’re resting mentally and physically then you go back at it.

Advertisement

"We went away for a few days [on a holiday] as a team, and I suppose we spoke afterwards, we drew a line in the sand after that. It was a good way maybe just to end that year, and say what's done is done now, and we're focused on the next year.

"So we went away, we came back the Monday and the Thursday we thought we were in for a nice enough session, and it was one of the hardest sessions we've had all year. So that was definitely one way to kickstart the new year.

"I think the best medicine for us was a really tough training block in May and June where if you were feeling sorry for yourself, it was run out of you. You’re definitely motivated to amend that. Losing the way we did, it adds an extra percentage or two to the motivation but for me that motivation will always be there."

Advertisement

Just as they did for the latter stages of last year's Leinster championship and the All-Ireland semi-final and final, Crokes play this weekend's Dublin decider without Paul Mannion. The 29-year-old suffered an ankle injury during Crokes' quarter-final victory over Cuala.

29 January 2022; Injured Kilmacud Crokes' player Paul Mannion celebrates after the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final match between Pádraig Pearses, Roscommon, and Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin, at Kingspan Breffni in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

"Look, he’s obviously a massive loss for us but I’m nearly more devastated for Paul on a personal level because obviously he got injured last year too," says Cunningham.

"I think he was determined to make amends for that so for him to be ruled out for the rest of the campaign is devastating so I do feel really sorry for him and then obviously from a team perspective, he’s one of the stand-out players and leaders so to miss him will be a big blow."

Recommended

Mannion recently had surgery on the problem ankle which will keep him out of action for around three months. Despite being injured, the six-time All-Ireland winner was at Crokes training last week "hobbling around with crutches".

Advertisement

"He’s always been a leader but even last year, I saw a different side to him in terms of, like what he was adding in the dressing room," says Cunningham, who was surprised that Mannion has decided to rejoin the Dublin panl.

"He spoke unbelievably at times, and in particular after we lost (to Kilcoo), he had a few words in the dressing room that will definitely stick with me, and he’s injured again, he’s doing the same again. Whatever he says, people listen to."

'I was excited Shane Walsh was joining Kilmacud Crokes'

Mannion's absence has been mitigated by the arrival of Shane Walsh in Stillorgan. The Galway man, who scored eight points in the semi-final victory over Thomas Davis, transferred to the south Dublin side from Kilkerrin-Clonberne in August.

Advertisement

2 October 2022; Shane Walsh of Kilmacud Crokes signs autographs for supporters after the Dublin County Senior Club Football Championship Semi-Final match between Thomas Davis and Kilmacud Crokes at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

"When we first heard he was joining, I was excited that he was joining," says Cunningham.

Advertisement

"Naturally enough when there was talk Shane Walsh was joining Kilmacud Crokes, a big South Dublin club, there was always going to be mud thrown in that regard. So we just ignored it.

"We know ourselves that he is just extremely motivated to play football. The first time I met him, within about 10 minutes of speaking to him, I could tell he was GAA mad. I think his main determination is to play football at the best level he can.

"So we just ignored all the noise that came at us, and embraced the fact that Shane Walsh was training with us. He's a phenomenal player.

"In fairness to him, he's settled in brilliantly. We're a tight group off the pitch. We socialise a lot with each other off the pitch, and he's made a massive effort in that regard. He's really made an effort with us, getting to know us, and around the club as well, he has volunteered his time with teams to get to know people throughout the whole club as well. He was out supporting the ladies footballers a good few nights during their championship, so he's making a massive effort to get to know everyone. I can't fault him at all.

"His talent, he showed in the All-Ireland final and the last eight or nine years at inter-county level how talented he is. It's definitely a bonus for us, inside forwards, for him kicking in ball to us.

"I was joking before how in one of the games, Paul Mannion was sticking balls over the bar from 60 yards, and Shane Walsh was doing it as well. So the inside forwards weren't getting too much ball inside!

"Having Shane Walsh kicking in ball to us is a bonus. He's a quality, quality player. Hopefully he can do more of it on Sunday."

Quiz: Can You Identify These 12 Club GAA Teams From Their Jersey

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article
Sponsored by Sports Direct

Sports Direct are sponsors of the Clubhouse on Balls.ie - home to the best of Club GAA for 2022/23

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com

Advertisement