Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA Monaghan

Monaghan enjoying life in the fast lane and Walshe is aiming higher

By Declan Bogue

The last time Colin Walshe played a big Championship game in Clones, it changed his life.

Beforehand, studious observers of Ulster football put him in the top bracket of tough man-markers, but it wasn't until the Ulster final last July that he announced himself to the wider public.

Marking Patrick McBrearty, he restricted the Kilcar man to two wides all afternoon and a world of frustration as Monaghan bridged a gap of 25 years to claim the Anglo-Celt Cup.

The start of the year had him captaining Dublin Institute of Technology to the Sigerson Cup title, then followed the league Division Three cup after beating Meath in Croke Park. Then this.

"I met Darren (Hughes) after the final whistle," he recalls, "and then I got rugby tackled by a couple of my club mates that had jumped the wire. After that, it was kind of a blur to get over to the steps."

The last time Monaghan ruled UIster, Walshe wasn't even born, so no wonder he still retains a gentle amazement about the whole episode now.

"It was something you'd never experienced before or I had never witnessed in the county."

During one of the Clare homecoming parties after their improbable Liam MacCarthy success last year, manager Davy Fitzgerald had a consistent message; 'To Hell with the recession, let's enjoy this.'

It might seen hackneyed by this stage, but the Doohamlet corner-back can vouch for a sporting triumph lifting the hearts of those around him.

"When you are coming from a real rural county with a real small population, when the football is going well it's something that everyone talks about and it puts everyone in good spirits," he states.

"Naturally enough they tend to enjoy the GAA a lot more when it is going well and the opposite when it isn't. Especially at the minute when Monaghan football has been on a high for the last 12 months, it probably has been a hot topic in the county.

"You can see it in people's mood. Especially the way things being the last couple of years in the county.

"If it can get some people a break away or get a family out to a good Championship game, to let them experience something like that in Clones last July, all the better."

Walshe first broke onto the panel under Seamus McEnaney and played in the Ulster final in 2010.

Then he went two years plummeting through the divisions as new boss Eamonn McEneaney was forced to blood an almost entirely new team in 2011 and 2012 with Rory Woods, Gary McQuaid, JP Mone along with Damian and Tommy Freeman all opting out.

They won a grand total of four games in two years before Malachy O'Rourke was appointed.

Older heads on the panel told the younger boys horror stories of life in Division Four; long evenings spent on buses home from Waterford and Clare. A third successive relegation could not be tolerated.

"One of the main aims last year was to get back up and not to get stuck in a rut. You could find yourself down there and struggling for a number of years. Thankfully we have risen through the divisions again," says Walshe of their back-to-back promotions, and the prospect of top-flight league football again next season.

That's all on hold though as he gets ready for his next day out in Clones against Tyrone. And he's not about to forget how it all ended last year.

"It probably ended on a sour enough note and we feel we might have achieved further success in the Championship."

Enough said.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph