THE inclusion of Cork goalkeeper Daniel Walsh (Douglas) in the All-Ireland Minor Football Team of the Year capped an incredible end-of-season achievement by the youngster.
At the start of the campaign, Walsh was understudy to his St Francis College, Rochestown, team-mate, Mikey O’Connell, from St Michael’s, based in Mahon.
He played in all three games in Cork’s successful bid for Munster championship honours, starting with the big win over Waterford, taking in the close-shave against Kerry and the final win over Limerick.
But, O’Connell was forced off injured in the build-up to the All-Ireland semi-final against Ulster champions Tyrone and Walsh took over the number 1 jersey.
Such was the favourable impression created by the debutant that the judges gave him the nod on the basis of just one game alone.
Walsh was unbeatable on the day, diving brilliantly to his left to turn away a first-half penalty and denying Tyrone corner-forward Ronan Cassidy a hat-trick with three magnificent saves.
However, his heroics couldn’t prevent Cork from going down to a 0-23 to 1-6 defeat, though Tyrone left their shooting boots behind in the final against Meath.
Unsurprisingly, the new champions dominate the team with eight representatives, including corner-back Conor Ennis, who was named Footballer of the Year.
Tyrone have five players honoured, including Cassidy, with Walsh and Sligo’s Luke Marren making up the 15, which was determined by a panel of experts and by sponsors, Electric Ireland’s ‘Player of the Week’ initiative on Twitter.
D Walsh (Cork); C Ennis (Meath), L Kelly (do), C Kelly (Tyrone); T Corbett (Meath), S O’Hare (Tyrone), S Leonard (Meath); R McHugh (Tyrone), J Kinlough (Meath); C Devlin (Tyrone), S Emmanuel (Meath), R Cassidy (Tyrone); H Corcorcan (Meath), O O Murchu (Meath), L Marren (Sligo).
Cork-born GAA President, Larry McCarthy, congratulated those who made the team, particularly Ennis on his award.
Meanwhile, Croke Park launched a landmark survey to give all players, members and supporters a say in shaping the next five-year strategic plan.
The GAA is to use its purpose-built membership management system, Foireann, to send the survey link directly to the e-mail address of every eligible member.
A steering group, headed up by McCarthy, has, since last April, been consulting with a wide-range of members and partners to outline broad focus areas and issues.
“This process of engagement will be hugely important in helping us establish the direction of travel for the GAA over the next five years,” he said.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and the deadline for submission is 2pm a week today.
It can be accessed on https://www.gaa.ie/2021-2026 and you can learn more and keep up to-date with the planning process at https://www.gaa.ie/the-gaa/administration/strategic-plan.
“Over the next week there will be an opportunity for members across every section of the GAA to have their say on what they believe are the issues to need to prepare for and what solutions might help us meet those challenges,” the President added.
The questions in the survey are based on feedback from a comprehensive programme of research involving surveys and focus groups with players, coaches, officers, other volunteers, employees at club and county levels, along with key stakeholders.
The survey’s findings will be reviewed over the course of several workshops the Steering Group will hold next month before it’s presented to Croker officials for approval.
Director General Tom Ryan stressed the importance of the survey.
“Having a clear vision and strategy over the next five years is of the utmost importance,” he said.
“Equally, finding out from the wider membership the concerns and aspirations for our organisation can only benefit this work.
“This is a chance for our clubs and members to be heard and we want a diverse range of perspectives and ideas, so our strategy solves real problems and exploits meaningful opportunities.
“I would encourage as many members as possible to complete the survey,” Ryan concluded.