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'I Woke Up After A Galway Game, And There Was A Scout In My House'

5 March 2023; Shane Walsh of Galway during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Galway and Monaghan at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne Updated
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Shane Walsh says moving to Australia to play in the AFL was "a possibility" but for the Galway star, "ultimately, it came down to my own decision".

"I was asked to four of those combines," Walsh told the BBC's The GAA Social podcast.

"Three of them, I actually went to. The first one, I don't know how they picked me because I got food poisoning the night before, and I couldn't even do the fitness test. Everything was way off. I don't know what they saw the first day that they wanted to ask me out to London. I didn't go.

"Then, the second time, I said I'd do myself justice. There was more of a football element to it, as regards playing with the AFL ball the second time, I enjoyed that. I wanted to see what that was about. The first time was very much about what you can do athletically.

"It fell at the wrong time for me because we were in the [2013] U21 Championship with Galway, and we had a Connacht final. I got picked to go to London, and I wanted to go at the time, but then when it fell the week before [the Connacht final].

"I remember talking to Alan Flynn, he was our manager at the time. He wasn't going to stop me, he said I could go over from the Sunday to the Wednesday and come back. I said I wasn't going to go because if I went and we lost this Connacht final, I wouldn't forgive myself.

"I'd like to think that the luck we got on the day. We were dead and buried, Roscommon were four up against us, and we came back to draw it at the end of normal time, and won it after extra-time, and went on to win the All-Ireland. "


6 April 2013; Shane Walsh, Galway, in action against John McManus, Roscommon. Cadbury Connacht GAA Football Under 21 Championship Final, Roscommon v Galway, Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

On another occasion, a scout with the Fremantle club turned up at Walsh's family home offering him a 10-week trial but the forward rejected the opportunity on the day.


"Another morning, I woke up after a Galway game, and there was a scout in my house," said Walsh.


"We'd been out. My mum came down to the room saying, 'There's a fella here in the kitchen that says he's with Fremantle, and he wants to talk to you'. I was like, 'Who the hell is in my house and how does he know where I live?'

"He asked me to come out for a trial for about 10 weeks. [At that stage] I'd done a bit more research in relation to the AFL and what the game is about.


"The main thing that stopped me from going out was I asked him what position they were considering me for, and he asked me where I'd like to play. I said that it doesn't matter where I'd like to play, as a professional player, I'd have to play where you play me.

"They were on about me being a runner, and I just felt that wasn't what my game was about. I based my whole life around developing my skillset. Running 12 or 13km a game, back and over, wasn't anything that I aspired to.

"I was just like, 'Thanks for the offer, but I'm not going to go'. I told them that day. I just said, 'I know I haven't got the physique to be in around the goals, shooting and dummying lads but that's the way I see my game'."


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

While on holiday in Australia following Kilmacud Crokes' All-Ireland club final victory, Walsh met up with former Tipperary football Colin O'Riordan who played in the AFL with the Sydney Swans.


"I was talking about this to Colin when I was over in Sydney," said Walsh.

"He had a great career with Sydney Swans but it, unfortunately, finished due to injury. He was saying that I should have went, that I would have been great at it.

"I explained what I thought about the running side of things, and he said it would have been an adjustment but I would have been able to showcase what I could do.


"He was partly saying that I could have tried it for the two years where you get the contract to go out. At the time, I wanted to play for Galway, I wanted to play in an All-Ireland final, and I've got there so I'm not going to regret too much about the past."

See Also: How Ronan O'Gara Influenced Galway Star's All-Ireland Performance

ronan o'gara shane walsh galway all-ireland fiinal



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