Walter Walsh - he loves playing in Nowlan Park
Giant Kilkenny attacker, Walter Walsh, will get to do something on Sunday he always enjoys doing.....playing in Nowlan Park.
The Tullogher Rosbercon clubman has produced some of the best performances of his career in Kilkenny GAA headquarters, and he appreciates the consistently strong backing teams gets from fans there.
"It is nice to be looking forward to the 'League quarter-final, and a home game against Wexford," he said when we spoke on the Parnell Park pitch after the Cats made it through to the last eight and consigned Dublin to a battle against relegation.
Loves the 'Park
"I always like playing in Nowlan Park. There is a special atmosphere about the place.
“Kilkenny fans create a great atmosphere there so I am looking forward to facing Wexford there, which is going to be another huge challenge.
"Today is done," he continued. "Now we will regroup and prepare for Wexford and the effort of trying to get into the semi-finals.
“You only take one game at a time, but you always have to be driven by the desire that you want to keep moving forward.
"Pushing on is important," he added.
Big man in many ways
Walsh, who has been a big man and big player in more ways than one for Kilkenny during the last two games, said the match against Dublin "was really, really tough".
After a seriously demanding physical battle on a nice sunny and warm day, there was little left in the tank at the finish, he admitted.
"Dublin are a serious team," said the three times All-Ireland medal winner.
"A lot of their young players are seriously physical and fit. You definitely notice that when you go into a challenge with them. They are well able to hold their own."
When asked he said Kilkenny were doing a lot of team building.
Drove everyone on
When newcomers got a chance, they were really going for it, and seeing that drove on the more established players.
"If you are in the team you want to hang on," was the way he put it.
"You see a sub coming in and doing well, and that drives you on. The competition in the squad is serious. That is the way it has to be if we are to be successful.
"There are younger players being blooded in the 'League who are seriously talented. They will rise the level of competition, and that in turn should drive us all on.
"Now the attention turns to Wexford," he said when he diverted the conversation back to next weekend.
"I am from the border with Wexford. They love their hurling down there, but we will be doing our best to end their 'League run."
Top scorer, T.J. Reid, said Kilkenny were delighted to have qualified for the 'League quarter-finals.
Doing so meant the squad was moving forward, and things were progressing nicely towards the championship.
"We don't get big results up here," he said of the hard earned win over Dublin in Parnell Park. "We knew it was going to be a tough, dogged fight. It was.
"We didn't play to the standard shown against Tipperary, but every day is different. We battled it out. There is room to improve.
“Some lads did excellently. Conor Martin hurled unbelievable stuff. We are moving on."
When asked to elaborate on the Martin comment he said the Emeralds man was "a very good hurler. He has been going well in training. Today it looked like he was around for a number of years."
He reminded that when a player was starting off, carrying the black and amber jersey could be a bit of a weight.
"Conor did well," he repeated. "The aim for him now has to be to do the same next week."
While he classed making the 'League quarter-finals as progress, he reminded that it was early in the season and was only March.
"At the end of the day no one remembers the start of the 'League," he suggested. "As long as we keep progressing the standard of our hurling will improve.
"Kilkenny didn't want to be in the relegation battle. If it had happened, it wouldn't have been the end of the world. We were in it in 2015 and we went on to win the All-Ireland.
"Look, we are progressing and we are trying to build momentum. This win will help us on our way," he insisted.
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