Willie Walsh (Cork hurler)
|Irish name||Liam Breathnach|
Youghal, County Cork, Ireland
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
Walsh joined the team during the 1968-69 National League and was a regular member of the starting fifteen until his retirement after the 1975 championship. During that time he won one All-Ireland medal, three Munster medals and three National League medals. Hegarty was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions.
Walsh played his club hurling with Youghal and enjoyed some success during a lengthy career.
In 1969 he was a key member of the team that reached the final of the intermediate championship. Cobh provided the opposition on that occasion, however, Youghal's ability to score goals proved the deciding factor. A 3-9 to 0-13 win gave Walsh an intermediate championship medal.
Minor and under-21
Walsh first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Cork minor hurling team in 1966. He collected a Munster medal following a 6-7 to 2-8 defeat of Galway. Cork later faced Wexford in the All-Ireland decider, however, a high-scoring 6-7 apiece draw was the result. The replay was much more conclusive with Wexford claiming a 4-1 to 1-8 victory.
By 1968 Walsh had progressed onto the Cork under-21 team and enjoyed immediate success on one of the most successful teams of all-time in that grade. Tipperary were bested by 4-10 to 1-13 to secure a first Munster medal. Walsh was later on the starting fifteen for the All-Ireland decider against Kilkenny. A 2-18 to 3-9 victory gave him his first All-Ireland medal in that grade.
In 1969 Cork had an even more comprehensive victory over Tipp in the provincial decider and Walsh added a second Munster medal to his collection. Old rivals Wexford provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland final and a high-scoring game ensued. A 5-13 to 4-7 victory gave Walsh a second consecutive All-Ireland medal.
Walsh made his senior debut during the successful 1968-69 National League campaign for Cork. A 3-12 to 1-14 defeat of Wexford in the decider gave him his first National Hurling League medal. The subsequent provincial decider pitted Cork against reigning champions Tipperary. A 4-6 to 0-9 victory gave Cork a first defeat of Tipp since 1957 while it also gave Walsh a first Munster medal. This victory paved the way for an All-Ireland showdown with Kilkenny, however, the team suffered a setback before the game when midfielder Justin McCarthy broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. In spite of this Cork led at the interval and looked a good bet for the victory, particularly after Kilkenny forward Pat Delaney left the field on a stretcher. The Rebels were still to the good coming into the last quarter, however, Kilkenny scored five unanswered points in the last seven minutes to win by 2-15 to 2-9.
In spite of the All-Ireland defeat, Cork regrouped during the 1969-70 National League. It was a successful campaign for the Rebels as an aggregate 5-21 to 6-16 defeat of New York gave Walsh his second National Hurling League medal. The subsequent championship campaign saw him win his second Munster medal as Tipperary were accounted for by 3-10 to 3-8. Cork later qualified for the All-Ireland final with Wexford providing the opposition in the very first eighty-minute championship decider. The game saw a record 64-point score line for both teams as Cork's Eddie O'Brien scored a hat-trick of goals to give Cork a considerable lead. At the full-time whistle Cork were the winners by 6-21 to 5-10, giving Walsh an All-Ireland medal.
After being dropped from the team for a number of seasons, Walsh won his third National League medal in 1974 as Cork defeated Limerick on a huge score line of 6-15 to 1-12.
The following year Walsh won his third Munster medal following a 3-14 to 0-12 defeat of reigning provincial champions Limerick. Cork were later defeated by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Walsh also had the honour of being selected for Munster in the inter-provincial series of games. He made his debut with the province in 1970 and was a regular at various times until his retirement in 1975. He enjoyed little success in this competition as Leinster dominated at the time.
- Cork Intermediate Hurling Championship (1): 1969
- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship (1): 1970
- Munster Senior Hurling Championship (3): 1969, 1970, 1975
- National Hurling League (3): 1968-69, 1969-70, 1973-74
- All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship (2): 1968, 1969
- Munster Under-21 Hurling Championship (2): 1968, 1969
- Munster Minor Hurling Championship (1): 1966
- Railway Cup (1): 1970