Tommy Walsh (Kerry footballer)

Tommy Walsh (born 26 February 1988) is an Irish sportsman who has played at the top level of Gaelic football and Australian rules football. The son of former Kerry Gaelic footballer Seán Walsh, he has played Gaelic football at club level with the Kerins O'Rahilly's club team and at inter-county level with the Kerry senior football team. Walsh played Australian rules football in the Australian Football League with St Kilda and Sydney.

Tommy Walsh
Personal information
Irish name Tomás Breathnach
Sport Gaelic football
Position Full Forward
Born (1988-02-26) 26 February 1988
Tralee, Ireland
Height 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Years Club
Kerins O'Rahilly's
Years County Apps (scores)
2007–2009, 2015–2016, 2018–
Kerry 15 (4–23)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 3
All-Irelands 1
All Stars 1

Gaelic football

Minor and under-21

It was clear from an early stage that Walsh was a talented footballer.[1] He was a star player for the Kerry team which reached the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final in 2006. He made his debut for the Kerry seniors in the 2007 National Football League, coming on as a substitute wing-forward on March 11 against Limerick. Kerry went on to win the 2007 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship [2] although Walsh did not appear in any championship game.

In 2008, Walsh won the All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship with Kerry.[3]


In 2008, Walsh was selected in the team for the first game of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship following some impressive NFL performances in the full-forward line.[4] Walsh made his championship debut came against Clare in the Munster Senior Football Championship, scoring a point.[4] He did not start in the Munster final, which Kerry lost to Cork, but came on as a substitute for the last few minutes.[5] He regained his place and a number of impressive performances saw him named as All Stars Young Footballer of the Year.[4]

Later in the year, having resisted previous approaches from the Australian Football League, Walsh agreed to spend one week of preseason training with Australian Rules Football club, St Kilda.[6] Players' agent Ricky Nixon described it as a 'big coup' for the AFL and said '"I can’t tell you if he'll want to play or stay or if he’ll be good enough but he’s definitely one of the best talents that I’ve seen."[6] However, Walsh later withdrew from the original trial and did not travel to Australia before the recruitment deadline, although he accepted an invitation to spend some time training with St Kilda.[7][8]

In 2009, Walsh suffered injury in the early part of the championship, which saw Kerry knocked out of Munster by Cork. Kerry came through the qualifiers to meet Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final, but Walsh was not on top form and was replaced before half-time. He was dropped from the team but came on as a substitute during the second half of the semi-final, and a more impressive performance saw him regain his place for the final. In the 2009 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, in which Kerry overcame Cork, Walsh notched up four points from play (two with each foot).[9]

Australian rules football

Tommy Walsh
Personal information
Full name Tommy Walsh
Date of birth (1988-02-26) 26 February 1988
Place of birth Tralee, Ireland
Original team(s) Kerry (Gaelic football)
Height 195 cm (6 ft 5 in)
Weight 97 kg (214 lb)
Position(s) Forward, Defender
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2012–2014 Sydney 5 (3)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2014.
Sources: AFL Tables,

St Kilda

In October 2009, Walsh finally agreed to sign a two year AFL contract in 2009, with St Kilda general manager Matthew Drain saying that "he has enormous talent to become an important player for St Kilda".[10]

In October 2010, Walsh returned to Ireland to line out for the Irish international rules team in the 2010 International Rules Series, held at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Ireland lost the first test of 2010.

Sydney Swans

In October 2011, Walsh requested and received a trade to the Sydney Swans and was selected for Ireland for the 2011 International Rules Series against Australia.[11]

Walsh was given the number 17 guernsey, vacated by the retirement of Tadhg Kennelly, who was a team-mate of Walsh's at Kerry in 2009. Walsh made his senior debut on Saturday 19 May 2012 against Melbourne.[12]

In 2013, he tore three hamstring tendons from a bone.[9]

At the conclusion of the 2014 AFL season, Walsh informed Sydney that he would return to Ireland.[13]

Return to the Kerry team

Kerry recalled Walsh for the 2015 National Football League.[9] Selector Mikey Sheehy later admitted this was a mistake, saying "we kind of threw him in at the deep end".[9]

In September 2018, veteran Kerry forward Kieran Donaghy retired.[9] The same week Walsh scored 2–2 in a county championship meeting with Dr Crokes.[9]

In October 2018, Walsh told an interviewer: "I think it's unlikely that I'll play for Kerry again".[9]

Peter Keane took over as Kerry manager in late 2018.[9] He phoned Walsh.[9]

Walsh helped Kerry reach the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.[14][15] A substitute against Dublin, the drawn game was the first time in a decade that he played in the decider.[9]

Almost as soon as he came on, Walsh set up a vital Kerry goal for Killian Spillane.[9]


  1. Keys, Colm (9 January 2008). "10 To Watch In 2008". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
  2. Murray, Shane (16 September 2007). "Kerry 3–13 Cork 1–9". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  3. "Kerry 2–12 Kildare 0–11". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 3 May 2008. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  4. "Kerry GAA – Official Website".
  5. "Cork 1–16 Kerry 1–11". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 6 July 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  6. "Walsh to train with St. Kilda - HoganStand".
  7. "Walsh and Moran to miss AFL club trial". The Irish Times. 11 November 2008.
  8. "Walsh flies out to Melbourne - HoganStand".
  9. Kissane, Sinéad (14 September 2019). "Tommy Walsh's return is the comeback story that looked like it might never happen". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 14 September 2019. The headline in the printed edition read: "From twin tower to supersub target man, Walsh is key to Kingdom dream".
  10. "Walsh signs two-year Aussie contract". RTÉ Sport. RTÉ. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  11. Otto, Tyson (18 October 2011). "Tommy Walsh ready to mix it with best". Herald Sun.
  12. Cordy, Neil (17 May 2012). "Sydney Swans' Irish import Tommy Walsh to earn senior cap". Herald Sun.
  13. "Walsh heads back to Ireland as Swans delist duo". Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  14. Sweeney, Peter (30 August 2019). "Will Tommy Walsh start and what damage can he do?". RTÉ Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  15. Sweeney, Peter (1 September 2019). "History suspended as Dublin and Kerry share the spoils". RTÉ Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
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