By Kieran Murphy
LEE Walker would have been an automatic starter for O’Hanrahan’s on Friday but a cruciate injury picked up in the final seconds of Carlow’s national football league Division 3 game against Louth ended his intercounty season and, subsequently, an entire club campaign too.
It wasn’t in his nature to feel sorry for himself and when trainer Mick Lillis and the Blues parted ways before the championship started, Walker came in with Marc Carpenter and JJ Lambert to look after training.
“I won’t be back until the start of the national football league hopefully with Carlow and pushing for a place on the county team,” he says.
In the long run it was a win-win situation for O’Hanrahan’s and the player.
“I am stuck in to the football set-up in the club and part of me is involved. I can’t make up for the playing side but I am helping the lads. Only for that I would be a step back with my rehab,” says Walker.
He has had a big influence in how the team plays. He has played with all the players and sees how much innate ability they have.
“We play natural football, kick ball in and get lads to win their own ball. That is what people want to see. We don’t want to drop back blocking everything. We like to play it off the cuff at times.
“The lads want to play football. At the start of the year it was all running. Most of the lads would be athletic enough, playing high-level soccer. They wouldn’t need a lot of running. When I came in I took over with the football. As soon as you got there (training) it was the football in your hands.”
Walker was away when the two teams met in a league game earlier in the season. Kildavin-Clonegal won that day but this game will be light years apart from the last time they played.
“We missed a few chances that day and they took their opportunities. It is set up for a real ding-dong battle.”
The Friday night final is not an issue either. Of course a weekend in natural light would have been better but it is what it is now.
“We would have liked to have played it sooner but the way things panned out with hurling that is the day we have got and we have to knuckle down.”
O’Hanrahan’s are also celebrating their centenary year. They already have won the C football championship final.
“We want to finish on a high. It is a big year for the club. Starting off this was our ambition and now that we are there hopefully we can win it,” says Lee.
Path To The Final
O’Hanrahan’s 3-10 Clonmore 2-10; O’Hanrahan’s 2-8 Kilbride 1-7; Fighting Cocks 4-13 O’Hanrahan’s 4-11. Semi-final O’Hanrahan’s 4-9 Éire Óg 2-9