He was one of the finest midfielders of his generation, a Galway man through and through and when he stepped out from a bouncing Galway dressing room in MacHale Park on Saturday night, Kevin Walsh had a contented and deserved smile on his face.
Despite picking five debutants and not been given much of chance by those outside the camp, he’d just overseen one of Galway’s sweetest football wins for many a year and getting some pride back in Galway football was one of the most important outcomes from that win he said. “We pushed on and when the goal went in you cold see the lads telling others to push up, that experience over the last 12 months maybe people would tend to fall back and protect the lead, but our boys stuck to the task and look we know we’ve nothing won, what we have won is a bit of pride back and that’s important, the boys are entitled to be jumping and roaring there for a few minutes, but that’ll all end tomorrow and we know we’ve a serious job in hand to win the Connacht final.”
Walsh was delighted that things worked out as he had hoped on the field saying, “We’re very happy, we came up to win the game and that’s what happened. A lot things can go against you, not a lot of things went against us today, not everything went for us so look we’re very happy and we probably won it on merit, albeit there was probably huge pressure on Mayo and I suppose it’s hard for Mayo to preform to the best of their ability with all the pressure put on them, but we’re very happy with the win.”
As for being written off in the build up to the game, they did use it as a bit of motivation he said. “Ara yah it would be, but at the end of the day you have to go out and play, that was only this week. This didn’t happen only this week, this has been worked on really, really hard for the whole league. I think it was great that most people were glass empty rather than half full talking about the two wins in the league, we’d only two losses in 11 games since the start of the year so we looked at it that some games we should have finished them off.
“We were quite aware of that and last year in Pearse Stadium (against Mayo ) we knew we were a lot closer than ye boys gave us credit for, bar a freak goal or two or three bad decisions we were right in that game and we knew that and we felt that 12 months further on we had a bit more work done and that’s not any disrespect to Mayo, they are great champions and they worked as hard they could out there and in fairness, players coming off there and shaking hands with the Galway lads, it was lovely to see and I suppose we’re huge into personal quality of people, that’s why I suppose we would have felt a little bit disrespectful with the media over the last number of weeks, but it’s great. We’re trying to build a positivity, we’re trying to be respected as people and that’s how we want to do our very best.”
Going back to the five debutants that he included in the side, Walsh was very happy with how the preformed and made no qualms about picking them for action. “They were all very important, people were giving us stick during the week about having only eight players starting from last year, I think Mayo only had nine, I didn’t hear much about that. We’re there to take the slack over the last number of weeks and we took it and brought it to the dressing room and used it as a bit of motivation, but that can often go against you if you don’t have structures and systems right, but in fairness to the boys we knew in ourselves if we stuck together we’d have a really big chance. It’s important that young fellas are given a chance on form, not what people think outside, when that door closes that’s what’s important.”
Next stop is Roscommon and the Connacht final and another big test for Walsh his Tribesmen.