Aidan Grennan pays tribute to Kilkenny goalkeeper, Ollie Walsh

His talent was first-rate, and his deeds extraordinary. Whenever hurling people meet and discuss the greatest-ever hurling goalkeepers, the name of Ollie Walsh won’t be far from their minds.

Ollie Walsh guarded Kilkenny’s net for 18 years. In that time, he faced some of the greatest forwards in history: Nicky Rackard, Christy Ring, Mick Flannelly, Tom Cheasty and Jimmy Doyle. Ollie collected five All-Ireland Senior medals (one as sub), and an impressive 10 Leinster Senior medals. He also won two National League, four Railway Cup, seven Walsh Cup, the Cuchulainn bronze trophy in 1957, Hurler of the Year Award in 1967 and Poc Fada champion in 1962 and ‘63. He also won All-Ireland Junior and Intermediate honours. In many of the above victories, it was often Ollie’s amazing performances that was the difference between winning and losing.

Patrick Oliver Walsh was born on 13th July, 1937. His first great memory was being chosen to play in goal for the local school Under-10 team. Later came an Under-14 fixture v Dublin, in an inter-county schools game at Harold’s Cross. Then in 1953 (while still not 16), Ollie lined out for the Kilkenny minors, also against Dublin – but this time at Croke Park. And, while enjoying himself at a fun-fair in his native Thomastown in 1956, he heard he’d been selected on the Kilkenny panel, for that year’s championship. Ollie Walsh had arrived into the big-time.

Continue reading in this year’s All Ireland Finals Annual (issue 5566)