K rock Football

DOK proud of role in Walsh rise

Sam Walsh in action for the Geelong Falcons.(Geelong Falcons Image/Brian Bartlett)

WHEREVER Sam Walsh’s football journey takes him over the next few months and then the following decade, Geelong Falcons coach Daniel O’Keefe will be proud to say he played a role in his development.

The Falcons’ co-captain is strongly tipped to be taken as the No.1 pick in November’s AFL national draft. At this stage, Carlton holds that selection before the trade period begins.

If his name is the first to be called out on November 22, Walsh will join Luke Hodge (2001, Hawthorn) and Paddy McCartin (2014, St Kilda) as former Geelong Falcons selected first.

O’Keefe has coached Walsh in his two years in the TAC Cup system and watched him evolve into one of the country’s most sought-after players.

The 18-year-old departs the Falcons with an impressive CV – even before his AFL career begins.

He was part of their drought-breaking premiership side last season and finished runner-up behind Cassidy Parish in the best and fairest.

This season the 18-year-old stepped up to share the Falcons captaincy with good friend Oscar Brownless – who should also find his way to an AFL list, most likely at Geelong as a father/son – and he also skippered Vic Country.

The under-18 national championships were where Walsh’s stocks grew even further.

While Vic Country failed to win a game, he was named the team’s MVP, an All-Australian and also claimed the coveted Larke Medal as the best player of the championships overall, becoming just the second Falcon to achieve that feat.

Walsh also finished equal third in the Morrish Medal.

“It’s going to be special over, I guess the next 15 years, watching how his footy career goes,” O’Keefe said of Walsh.

“Whether I’ve helped him or not, it’s really hard for me to say. But just forming the relationship that we have is something that no one can take away.

“I’m sure we’ll always be close. Hopefully, I’m not just his coach but a friend as well.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

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