Noel O'Leary had 'huge respect' for Paul Galvin despite their tussles

Cork great Noel O'Leary has opened up about his epic struggles with Paul Galvin, admitting they did 'tango' at times but clarifying that it never got to personal sledging.
Noel O'Leary had 'huge respect' for Paul Galvin despite their tussles
A FAMILIAR SIGHT: Cork’s Noel O’Leary and Kerry’s Paul Galvin clash in 2012. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Cork great Noel O'Leary has opened up about his epic struggles with Paul Galvin, admitting they did 'tango' at times but clarifying that it never got to personal sledging.

Powerful half-back O'Leary enjoyed and endured a series of running battles with Kerry half-forward Galvin throughout the 2000s with the counties clashing in two All-Ireland finals and on several occasions in Munster.

O'Leary agreed with Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé in an interview for Benetti Menswear that the duo did get 'hot and heavy' at times but was adamant it never came to personal insults, as some suggested.

"Over the years I've heard an awful lot of things, false things really, this kind of sledging that goes on, I've heard numerous things from people that he said certain things to me during the game, personal things," said O'Leary.

"I can categorically state, for both of us to be fair, it goes both ways, that he never opened his mouth to me and I was the same to him. I think it's only fair that that's put out there.

"I'd show huge respect to a guy that just puts it all out there and gets on with it. To be fair, the majority of ye (Kerry players) were the same. I won't say all of ye, but the majority of ye were the same. But it's totally different now. Sure what goes on now is unbelievable.

"But no, look, I know we had our tussles or whatever but I'd have huge respect for him as a footballer. Certainly a lot of what went on was blown out of proportion a small bit."

Galvin and O'Leary clashed and were both dismissed in the 2009 Munster semi-final replay though Galvin would later comment that he felt their personal head to head was 'embarrassing at times'.

Speaking in 2014, Galvin said: "I got the sense that they were willing to take the hit with losing Noel if it meant I was off the field too. Cork played like they didn't care about each other at times and it struck me that their manager didn't seem to care too much about Noel O'Leary at times also."

Galvin sent O'Leary a congratulatory text message after Cork's All-Ireland win in 2010 and both figures have spoken warmly about each other in more recent years.

But O'Leary acknowledged that as players they had a tempestuous relationship and the Cill na Martra man traced it back to their very first meeting.

"My first time crossing Paul was, I'd say, around 2001. He actually wasn't on the Kerry panel at the time. We played UCC in a practice game and he was actually playing wing-back that time. Jaysus, I can always remember, we didn't tussle but...I don't know what it was about him, I just felt that he wanted to, how would I say it...you could feel the tension during the game, I don't know what it was. I said in my own mind anyway, 'I have no doubt that if we meet down the road there'll be some tango between the two of us'.

"And sure lo and behold that's the way it panned out."

As a nod to the softening of their relationship post-retirement, O'Leary joked that the pair could get into the fashion business together.

"I was half thinking of bringing out my own underpants range and I was thinking of getting him on board to collaborate with me," smiled O'Leary. "I have the name and all made up. Who are that designer crowd, D&G? Well it's L&G, Leary and Galvin. That's the brand name."

O'Leary is optimistic about the current Cork team who appear to be on the up again after a difficult few seasons.

"The big thing I see with them in the last year or two, there's certainly a big culture shift there," he said. "I would say over the last five or six years, the culture was all wrong. It kind of starts from there really, you have to have a team that are buying into everything. I felt they were getting that a bit wrong at the time. Ronan (McCarthy) has definitely moved things on a bit. In relation to the calibre of players over the last few years, maybe Cork were caught a bit that way as well."

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