the period between 1977 and 1985 rates as the most pleasurable during my life for following Laois hurling at inter county level. In hindsight, there was more agony than ecstasy, yet the soldiers of the blue and white from that era gave the followers the notion of "dare to dream". Epic days like the infamous near miss in an all Ireland quarter final at birr against galway, to the late 1970s battles with Offaly, some good league runs and finally the trek to the centenary final.
the team of that generation was a team of men, dedicated to the cause of a county, not one amongst them in any way bothered by expenses, for them the honour of representing their county was priceless.
That team was a mix of tough committed players and classy technicians.
Maggie Walsh was that silky smooth corner/half forward who once given a sniff would ping the ball over the bar, generally good for three or four points from play in all games. Always competitive, if he did not win his ball, he made sure his opponent was under pressure to clear(unlike the current laois forwards). Frequently, targeted by others for rough treatment, Maggie never pulled a dirty stroke in his hurling life.
In that late 70s and early 80s, despite a small limited squad, he led Ballinakill in their quest for senior honours. Camross and Portlaoise dominated then, but Ballinakill troubled them every time, getting to one county final, and if memory serves they lost two semi final replays to Portlaoise. In one of those semi finals, Goggy Delaney pulled off a number of miraculous saves to deny Ballinakill. That Ballinakill team deserved a senior title and they represented the mould of the small underdog with dignity.
Maggie was also part of the Avonmore team that won a number of firms titles..........in those days, the firms competitions were serious affairs and the teams at the top of that pyramid were basically top class intercounty outfits. Maggie was the star for Avonmore and played alongside Billy Fitzpatrick on those firms teams. Billy Fitzpatrick was the key man for Kilkenny when they won 2 All Irelands in the late 70s, and he won All Ireland Man of the Match and All Star Awards. His achievements highlighted that if Maggie Walsh had been born 5 or 6 miles down the road, across the border in Kilkenny, then Maggie would have been a national superstar in hurling.
He was a superstar to Ballinakill, when many could have downed tools following a decorated career, Maggie was prepared to play in goals for his club at a lower level into the age of 50, his own way of giving something back and trying to keep the show on the road for a small club.
Many reading this thread may never have seen Maggie in his pomp. Rest assured he is 100% deserving of his place on the all time Laois hurling 15. A true gentleman and great competitor. Cha Dwyer may become the all time Ballinakill hurling great, if he does, he will be setting a very high standard to take that accolade from Maggie.