Whether it was your man in the tree last year or the debate over whether Paul Galvin would start in 2011, it wouldn't be a Kerry All-Ireland final without some element of cute hoorism. And so it is has come to pass this September that Tommy Walsh has emerged as a prospective bolter from the Kerry bench ahead of Sunday's match.
On Sean O'Rourke's sports slot Monday, there was Tommy Walsh talk. On Matt Cooper's sports slot Monday, there was Tommy Walsh talk. On Radio Kerry this week, there was Tommy Walsh talk from Mike Frank. To be honest, the talk baffles us.
For one, Eamonn Fitzmaurice has mysteriously kept Tommy Walsh on a pretty tight leash this year. Heading into the Kildare quarterfinal, he'd only played 3 minutes in the Championship. When that game was clearly won, Fitzmaurice unleashed Walsh on a broken Kildare midfield and Walsh destroyed all around him. Fitzmaurice then opted to keep Walsh on the bench for the entire Tyrone match, and when David Moran was misfiring, brought Bryan Sheahan in.
There has always been a suspicion that Fitzmaurice was keeping Walsh up his sleeve like a fifth ace with this one game in mind, pushing the Tadhg Kennelly 2009 template in the extreme. But where would Walsh fit in? Moran is favourite to win the footballer of the year. Anthony Maher is the real hero of the Kerry midfield. The half forward line of O'Brien, Buckley and Walsh are the oil that keeps the entire Fitzmaurice machine rolling. We suspect Kieran Donaghy won't start, but thrusting Walsh back into the full forward role he performed so ably in the 2009 All-Ireland final would be an enormous gambit. Gooch and O'Donoghue are undroppabable.
Maybe we'll see Walsh brought into counteract Dublin when either Bastick or MDMA is introduced but will that be too late?
We can only think that this talk about Walsh making a massive impact Sunday is only that: talk. Years afterwards, we suspect, pundits will be asking the opposite question: why didn't Fitzmaurice use Tommy Walsh more in 2015?