Ireland international Tadhg Furlong has picked out one Kilkenny hurler who he feels could have made it at rugby if he stuck with the sport.
Speaking on Off The Ball AM, the 25-year-old British and Irish Lion spoke about playing the sport growing up in the south-east of the country.
He lined out at under-age level alongside one Walter Walsh – who is currently a key member of Brian Cody’s squad as they build up to this year’s Leinster Championship.
The pair both played for New Ross RFC, with the international prop describing the inter-county forward as “a hell of a rugby player.”
Furlong added, via Balls.ie:
“He played a lot of out-half for us underage, I suppose, with New Ross. He could boot the ball a country mile and control the game very well. Obviously, athletically very strong, good body and spatial awareness for GAA.”
Being a Kilkenny man, it was always going to be hard to keep Walsh away from the small ball. And, while the lure of professional sport is something that could have been a possibility, the Tullogher-Rosbercon clubman has already had a good career in black and amber, winning three Leinster titles, three All-Irelands, two National Leagues and in 2016 was named on the All-Star team.
Furlong acknowledged that Walsh had to make a choice and given his medal haul, it is hard to disagree with him.
“It was probably at a time for him when hurling was taking off as well. He probably never got the shot at it that I would have done. If he got those chances and opportunities and hurling wasn’t there, it’s a different conversation, maybe.”
Both Furlong and Walsh have come a long way from the New Ross RFC as the pair, although they travelled different paths, both made a fine sporting career for themselves.
Neither player will be satisfied with their lot, however
Furlong left the field in Ireland’s facile victory over Italy but should return as Joe Schmidt’s men look to win a Grand Slam. For Walsh, he will be looking to get Kilkenny back to the promised land and win a first Liam MacCarthy Cup since 2015 for the Cats.
Check out the latest episode of The 16th Man, where we defend the Kildare footballers and discuss Shane Dowling’s wonder-goal for Na Piarsaigh in the club championship.