Paul Galvin: I had to adapt to survive

Paul Galvin has revealed his Kerry career would have ended a lot earlier had he not changed his style of football.

The 34-year-old, who hung up his boots on Saturday, admitted he would have been forced to retire years ago had he not sacrificed his all-action, abrasive game for a more considered approach.

“I suppose I was just kind of all or nothing in the way I went about it,” Galvin told Today FM’s The Last Word. “I had to change tack then along the way. You have to be smart to try and stay ahead of the game.

“There are lots of different ways to play football and if I kept going the way I was going from ’04 onwards I would have burned out and finished up pretty early, I think, as a footballer.

“I had to rethink things and probably played a different type of football later in my career.”

At times emotional, Galvin spoke of his affection for Jack O’Connor under whom he won three of his four All-Ireland medals. He also stated his belief that his Footballer of the Year award-winning 2009 wasn’t his finest season in a Kerry jersey.

“It was satisfying, very satisfying,” he said of his career, “but I wouldn’t say it was my best year, to be honest. Of course, it was the best year because any year you win an All-Ireland is a great year. Jack was great. We had a great old innings and he was a brilliant manager. I did my bit for him and I did my bit for Kerry.”

Galvin admitted Kerry’s Croke Park defeats over the past four seasons — three of which he was involved in — were difficult to cope with.

“There were a few hard days towards the end. They’d take it out of you and they took it out of me. Physically, mentally and emotionally. When you lose, it’s hard.

“The story of the Kerry team I played on was a team that kept coming back and never went away through it all. I think the Kerry team I was part of was always there. There’s greatness in the longevity of it all, which was the big thing for me. It was great fun while I was at it. I learned an amount from it and I experienced an amount from it as well. You become a man, I suppose, out of it, really, and I’m grateful for it.”

Galvin spoke of his willingness to confront journalists who he felt wrote inaccuracies about him during controversies such as the incident with referee Paddy Russell in 2008.

“Players are scrutinised now more than ever and you have to leave it run off you at times. There were times when I didn’t. I maybe had my say privately if I needed to address people who had written stuff inaccurate or untrue about me. I had no bother doing it and that was the way I operated. I moved on from it then pretty quickly.

“Players are scrutinised to a level that they never have been before and you need to deal with it. I had no problems dealing with it. You have to be tough.”

Galvin said he had intended to step away at the end of last season but was convinced by Eamonn Fitzmaurice to reconsider.

He denied the rigours of the game had become too much for him, but admitted the time demanded of a modern day inter-county footballer had been a factor in his decision.

“I had a chat with Eamonn and he dropped [the idea of] the centre-back option and it was something I was keen on because half-back was a position where I probably felt most comfortable playing my football. It just proved a bit of a stretch in terms of work stuff. I was just a bit too busy.”

About his recent move into the half-back line, he said: “There were no guarantees but I had been going pretty well there but it was just proving too difficult in terms of work. There comes a time when you have to consider other people and other things in your life as well.”

Speaking on Radio Kerry, Galvin said Galway’s Declan Meehan was his toughest opponent, while he ruled out a move into football management. “It’s not something I would be considering.”

He also thanked the Kerry supporters, especially the ex-pats: “One of the kind of privileges of playing with Kerry is we’ve been around the world and it’s great to connect with the Kerry fans worldwide. They’re probably more passionate supporters than the people at home. I always appreciated the Kerry supporters and we’ll look forward together to a new generation of Kerry footballers bringing success back to the Kingdom.”

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