JACK WALSH holds a piece of Cork GAA history in that he scored the first goal at the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, netting for Valley Rovers against Blarney in the county premier IHC in July 2017.
In addition, the Innishannon native is the holder of an All-Ireland IHC medal from 2018 but, for the immediate future though, he will be focused on scoring goals for Cork City, having joined the club from Avondale United as Colin Healy seeks to guide the club back to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Walsh (30) played for his local club Innishvilla prior to joining Dales, with whom he won the FAI Intermediate Cup in 2019.
Having overcome numerous injuries – some of them career-threatening – he is keen to make the most of his opportunity.
He has appeared in the three pre-season friendlies to date and City round off their programme against Finn Harps in Dublin tomorrow.
“This was the first chance I had [to play League of Ireland],” he says.
“I had had a few injuries over the years, so when I was playing with Innishvilla I was only making it through matches and not really training a lot.
“It was an easy enough decision – it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, I’d only have been regretting it if I didn’t give it a go.
“I was told a couple of times to give up – I was initially told after one injury that I’d never play again and I came back from that and had two more knee surgeries, one in 2018 and one in 2019.
“The surgeon was saying I should be thinking about packing it in again but I gave it another go.
"I count myself lucky that I’ve been able to play, so every game, every training session, I want to make the most of it and enjoy it.”
With Avondale, Walsh played alongside Mark O’Sullivan, who showed that the step up to League of Ireland can be successfully managed.
That he made the leap from AUL to Munster Senior League should also stand to him.
“At Innishvilla, there might only be ten or 12 at training due to other commitments but at Avondale it was 20 hungry fellas every session,” Walsh says.
“There was a lot of competition for places as it’s a serious level. There was a big step up but I adjusted alright.
“I would think this is a similar step up now. You notice a difference already in that it’s a lot quicker and I’m still trying to get up to the pace of it.”
It does mean that he can’t line out with Valleys this year, which he admits is the one regret.
"There was a new hurling management this year and a sense of a fresh start so I was looking forward to that.
“We did very well in the football last year, we felt we were unlucky to lose to Duhallow in the quarter-finals and thought we should have gone further so there were high expectations in the club.
“That was disappointing in that the timing won’t allow it. You’d never know, if it’s pushed back I might be able to play in a county final or something!”
Walsh will retain some presence in Innishannon as, with his friend Kevin Canty, he will soon be opening a coffee truck, Sideline Hut, at the GAA pitch in the village, next to the playground and walkway.
In addition, he works as a quantity surveyor with MMD on Kinsale Road, but he is enjoying combining everything.
“I’m juggling it at the moment,” he says.
“The days that I’m training, I’m in there from about 9.30am until one or two o’clock, so I go into work for a couple of hours in the morning, I go off training and then I come back and work up my hours until seven or eight.
“It’s a long day but at the same time it’s not too bad – if I was playing with Avondale or playing GAA, you’d work a full day and go home for a few hours and then you’ve a couple of hours training again.”