AIDAN WALSH MAY have finished Sunday in the Gaelic Grounds without a score to his name, the only starting Cork forward not to raise a flag.
But that statistic did not diminish his contribution to a victory over the All-Ireland champions that revived Cork’s Munster campaign.
The 29-year-old departed in the 68th minute after a wholehearted shift that helped clinch a seven-point success for Cork. Parachuted into the starting side in one of four changes from the loss to Tipperary, he’s happy to fill a grafting role for the team.
“I know I don’t have the skill of Hoggy (Patrick Horgan) or Lehane or Cadogan, but I know when they do get the ball they’ll do the damage,” he said.
“I’m happy enough to work hard, run as much as I can, run myself into the ground and make space for the boys, get the ball and give it to the shooters.
“Most teams have someone like that and I’m happy, if I’m given the opportunity, to do it.”
Criticism rained down on Cork in the wake of their loss to Tipperary and Walsh could understand where it was rooted in.
“Last week was very disappointing, we know that we can play better than that, but it was probably the perfect preparation.
“A seven-day turnaround and fellas were hurting but they were looking forward to it, a chance to play the All-Ireland champions in their home ground, everything was going against us.
“People were writing us off all week and it was hard to blame them, really. When you lose a home game as convincingly as we did last week, it didn’t bode well.
“But we knew ourselves that if everyone worked hard and did their job, we’d be there or thereabouts.”
Walsh was one of four changes to the Cork starting fifteen but the series of brave calls by management paid off.
“The boys made some big calls – myself, Rob Downey making his championship debut, Mark Ellis didn’t play any league, they were big calls and I’m delighted.
“Rob Downey was excellent, Mark Ellis was outstanding, Deccie Dalton came on and got two points, Niall O’Leary, second championship game. We’ve a 39-man panel and we’ve shown that fellas can come in.
“Mark Ellis wasn’t even on the panel last week and he comes in and plays like that, that just shows the character of the group.
“Alan Cadogan was on the bench and he hadn’t played, it was his first championship game in two years. He showed he’s an outstanding player and we’re lucky to have players of that calibre to come off the bench.
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“Conor [Lehane] was a huge loss, but we were delighted for Cadogan, he’s had a tough year but he came in and did that today.”
Cork’s goal is now to replicate that level of work ethic against Waterford, a game pencilled in on 8 June after a three-week break for John Meyler’s side.
“We know ourselves that if we work hard and do our job, we’ll be there or thereabouts. At the end of the day, any fella can have an off-day but nobody stops you from working hard, nobody stops you from running.
“You mightn’t get the first ball, you mightn’t get the second ball, but if you keep showing, keep working, the breaks will go for you.
“We’re just looking forward to training for the next few weeks and our next game is a home game, which is a great incentive as well. We love playing in front of our own fans, they travelled in numbers to Limerick and we’re delighted to get the win for them.”
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