Kerry manager Jack O’Connor has commended Kildare on their fine piece of business in securing the services of former Kingdom captain Paul Galvin.
It was confirmed last week that Galvin had joined an already star-studded Kildare backroom team as forwards coach, the Lilywhites’ acquisition of the four-time All-Ireland winner adding an extra dimension to Sunday’s Kerry-Kildare Division 1 League clash in Newbridge which will see O’Connor return to the county he waved goodbye to last September.
The Kerry manager said Galvin is an “asset” to Kildare and will bring belief to the Lilywhites dressing room because of all he won during his time in green and gold.
Galvin’s involvement with Kildare represents his first inter-county role since his short-lived stint as Wexford manager in 2020. In the early months of last year, it was reported the 2009 player of the year had declined an approach from then Kerry boss Peter Keane to join the Kingdom management team for the 2021 season.
“Paul has a good brain for the game. I know that from dealing with him as a player and from some of the columns he has written for the papers. He is a deep thinker on the game,” Jack remarked.
“He'll of course bring something to Kildare. Most of all, he'll bring belief to the dressing room because the man won it all, was player of the year, and is highly respected. I'd still be friendly enough with Paul and I'd wish him well there. Is Paul Galvin an asset to Kildare? Absolutely.”
As the Kerry manager prepares to head back up the road to the county he managed in 2020 and 2021, he last night insisted that he continues to enjoy a “good relationship” with the Kildare players and county board.
This is despite the Kildare County Board releasing a statement on the same day last September as O’Connor announced he was stepping down as Kildare boss that said he and his management team were “at an advanced stage of planning for 2022”.
O’Connor has since made clear that he had not committed to a third year with the Lilywhites and had “more or less” made up his mind that he was done with Kildare on the August afternoon of their Leinster final defeat to Dublin.
“The people that mattered up there to me; the players, the county board, and the management I worked with, I have a good relationship with all of them.
“I think they have the right management in place now with Glenn Ryan, who is a kind of folk hero up there, and then you also have Johnny Doyle, Dermot Earley, Brian Lacey. All those fellas were heroes of the 90s and Noughties. Kildare need new heroes now and this team has the capability of doing big things.
“I have no regrets about Kildare because I think we did a good job up there. I really feel I left Kildare football in a better position than where I found it.”
O’Connor was last night asked to respond to the comments of Westmeath footballer Ray Connellan who described as “stupid” and “brain dead" the Kerry manager's decision to bring on Tony Brosnan and Jack Savage in the second half of Kerry’s McGrath Cup game away to Tipperary earlier this month, hours after they’d played a Sigerson Cup game for MTU Kerry in Tralee.
The Kerry boss conceded that some of the flak he received was “justified” and that, maybe, he should have stopped the pair from travelling to Templetuohy after their Sigerson Cup endeavours.
“Maybe I should have stopped them. Do I see it as any great player welfare issue, not at all. In actual fact, player welfare is mental as well as physical. And if they went up and I didn't give them a few minutes, I think that would have been harder on them than actually not going on.”
Elsewhere, the hamstring injury Stephen O’Brien sustained early on in Saturday’s McGrath Cup final will sideline the half-forward for up to three weeks. Dara Moynihan, who missed the Cork win, will make the trip to Newbridge, but Mike Breen (hamstring) won’t. Gavin Crowley, meanwhile, is being monitored after picking up a bang against Cork.
While not coming out for or against the green option to reform the football championship, O’Connor did remark that “its commonly acknowledged that league is a more equitable competition than the championship and has been for a few years”. He is in favour of U19 becoming the new age grade for minor.