Walsh: Natural for Kerry to become obsessed with rivals Dublin
The image of Kerry as a bruised and brooding football county over their unprecedented four-game losing streak to Dublin in the Championship was illustrated again yesterday in Croke Park with veteran attacker Donnchadh Walsh admitting that Jim Gavin's team are "always going to be at the back of our minds," in 2017.
Speaking at the launch of this year's Allianz Leagues, Walsh admitted "it is very easy to become obsessed with them," after a run which has featured Dublin as the only team to beat Kerry in Championship football since 2012.
"Every night you go out for training you could just totally focus on them."
He stressed also that it was now "a bigger challenge," for Kerry to catch and overtake Dublin than it was with Tyrone in the last decade.
"Their winning habit really is what they have over us at the moment," he conceded.
"They're able to mix and match all their skills with just a ferocity with a strength in their tackle...they kept that intensity up for the 70 minutes (in last year's All-Ireland semi-final) so that's maybe one thing that we absolutely need to match them at.
He added: "All their skill and their dangerous players we well know.
"Cluxton, we have him analysed to death at this stage and he's still producing the goods so maybe that ferocity that they bring into the tackle and that aggressiveness that every good team has."
Speaking just hours after Aidan O'Mahony's announcement of his retirement from inter-county football, Walsh stated that to the best of his knowledge, both Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy would be back in a Kerry jersey later this year. O'Mahony's decision ended a 13-year Kerry career and severed yet another link with the team that amassed five All-Irelands in the 2000s.
"They're definitely back, as far as I can see," Walsh said of the influential attacking duo.
"You don't like that uncertainty so it is a good boost."
Of O'Mahony's announcement, Walsh insisted that he was surprised.
"I've met him in the gym the last couple of weeks and he's obviously still in incredible shape and it looked like he was maintaining it to give it another year so a bit of a surprise, alright.
"He probably had made his mind up a while ago.
"I'm not too sure what his thinking process around it was but physically he could have given it another year.
"But obviously you need to be fully committed to it mentally as well then.
"There was no problem in his physical ability to go on another year but he's decided against it."
"It's up to the players now to be the leaders," Walsh added.
"So as good as Aidan or Marc (Ó Sé) was we have plenty of leaders in the dressing room.
"I don't think we'll be found wanting in that regard."