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Shane Walsh: 'Even If I Was Hated In The Club, Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Going Back'

17 August 2022; PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for July/August in football, Shane Walsh of Galway, with his award at PwC offices in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
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"Covid was a blessing in that sense," says Shane Walsh. "It took football away from me, and said 'What are you doing? Where are you at in life?' I'm kind of someone that would have been very easy going, just went along with the breeze."

That period of self reflection led him back to education, and the decision to leave Bank of Ireland and become a PE teacher. When Walsh thought about where he would like his life to go, his thoughts turned to Peadar Brandon, his primary school principal.

"He absolutely hates me quoting him," says Walsh, the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for July/August in football.

"He said he's sick of at this stage. He challenged me from a young age to improve. I embraced that challenge, and I'm so grateful for him for that. He literally has allowed me to realize my dreams of playing for Galway, playing on All-Ireland final day, and hopefully winning the All-Ireland final in time.

"I'm able to kick off both feet since I'm probably six or seven years-of-age and that's all down to his little words in my ear. I took them on board and embraced them.

"To be a positive influence of someone, wouldn't that make your day? If I could be that influence on the next Shane Walsh, the next John Daly or the next Damien Comer, Paul Conroy or David Clifford that would mean the world to me."

24 July 2022; Shane Walsh of Galway in action against Tom O'Sullivan of Kerry during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Six days after Galway lost to Kerry in the All-Ireland football final, it emerged that Walsh had requested to leave his home club Kilkerrin-Clonberne and join Dublin giants Kilmacud Crokes. Walsh is living in Dublin as he studies at the Portobello Institute.

That request had been months in the making. Earlier in the year, the travel back and forth between Dublin and Galway for inter-county training began to exacerbate his injury problems. Walsh started to consider how he could decrease his time in the car.

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"It probably stemmed from around March the driving started taking its toll on me," he says.

"You nearly find yourself in a soul-searching space because you're saying, 'I can't do what I love doing'. "You're saying to yourself 'That was my release’. I wasn't able to get my release from things.

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"It becomes a lonely place when you're injured, and you're not able to do anything. You feel isolated because it's only you against time. You're trying to work, it's time to get back training and for me, travelling down up and down getting physio, I was nearly undoing the process going back up in the car.

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"I'm just forward-thinking again, saying if that's going to keep happening I'm not going to be able to do the game I love. That's the killer for me at the end of it all. That's what it's all about for me is playing the game I love playing for as long as I can play it. This is with a view of hopefully prolonging my career."

The decision to request that transfer was not easy. One of his main concerns was how it would impact his family. Whether the transfer will go through, Walsh is unsure. The Irish Times reported this week that no objections have been tabled. It will now go before Croke Park's Central Competitions Control Committee for consideration.

17 August 2022; Marie Coady, PwC Partner, GPA Chief Executive Tom Parsons, left, and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy, right, with PwC GAA/GPA Players of the Month for July/August, from left, Galway footballer Shane Walsh, PwC GPA Player of the Month ladies football Niamh O’Sullivan and Limerick hurler

Gearóid Hegarty, with their awards at PwC offices in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"That's why it took time," Walsh says about the decision.

"Both Mom and Dad has been such a good influences on my career. They both sat down and went through everything with me. Having that steady influence around me was crucial in coming to the decision. My decision was going to impact them as well, because they're living at home, and they would probably see more of the flak than probably I would like.

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"That was probably what helped in my decision, that they were able to be happy with this. They wanted me to be happy and they've always been like that with me in my life.

"It's a hard one because I learned my trade in my club. Everything I've learned to do on the football field, obviously I put in time myself, but like, your coaches, everyone's been a huge influence on me in my club. I'm so grateful to them for that.

"That's what makes it even harder for me because no matter what anyone says about me or the club or anything about that, the love of the club will never change.

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"Even if I was hated amongst the club, when I'm finished up with this, and looking to change back again to Galway in time, nothing's gonna stop me going back there - nothing.

"I couldn't care if they were trying to lock the gates, it wouldn't change the affection I have towards the club, but like, thankfully that's not the case. I've got some lovely messages in the club, wishing all the best with whatever happens. That's what means the most to me is seeing those kind of messages coming from people in the club.

"Life is full of decisions. What's best for someone at the time can hurt somebody else. That's that's the difficult part of life. I'm just making this decision purely on a circumstantial basis."

See Also: How Return To Junior Hurling Brought Gearóid Hegarty 'Back Down To Earth'

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