Last Saturday, for the first time in his career, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh was on the right side of a result against Kilkenny. At the ripe age of 34, Brick will be hopeful that this wasn’t the only first he will achieve this summer.
Few would begrudge him an All-Ireland medal. The Stradbally man has been on the inter-county scene since 2003 and has had a successful career.
But one medal has eluded the four-time All-Star throughout his 14 years in the Waterford jersey. It’s an honour that nobody in his county has achieved in 58 years.
We’re talking of course about an All-Ireland medal. Just once has Walsh played in Croke Park on the first Sunday in September.
He was captain on that occasion, but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. The Déise suffered an embarrassing 23-point defeat at the hands of a rampant Kilkenny.
Anybody who has played with or against the Brick will vouch for his crazy levels of competitiveness, you can be sure this defeat will have hurt fewer more than Walsh.
The evidence of this lies in the performances of the three-time Munster medallist’s following this game. After a positional switch to centre-back, he picked up All-Stars in the following two seasons.
The true testament to the man however is the performances he has put in for the past three seasons under Derek McGrath.
McGrath’s now famous system requires serious fitness levels. Even now into his 30’s, the 2003 Munster u-21 football medallist is a permanent fixture in McGrath’s side.
To put this into perspective, teammate Shane Bennett would have been just six years old when Brick made his debut.
Yet year after year, he continues to produce the goods. In very similar fashion to his former colleague Tony Browne, age seems to have little effect on this man.
This season has marked two noteworthy achievements for Walsh: The first is that his start against Offaly saw him overtake Browne’s inter-county appearance record.
Secondly, and undoubtedly more important to him, and all of Waterford, was that it marked his first ever championship victory over Kilkenny.
In the most open hurling championship since 2013, Waterford will fancy their chances. Very few, if any hurlers in the championship would be more deserving of an All-Ireland than Brick.
With 67 appearances to his name to date, it’s quite clear that it wasn’t Walsh’s natural skill levels that have gotten him this far.
But instead, his extraordinary attitude and work-rate that has taken him to this level. This is what makes the man such a shining example to any young hurler.
Waterford’s system may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but surely nobody can deny that Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh would be deserving of an All-Ireland medal this September.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena
Check out this week’s episode of The 16th Man podcast where we looked back on Waterford’s historic win over Kilkenny and reviewed the Munster final between Cork and Clare.
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