Some may call it appropriate but Paul Galvin’s last act in a Kerry jersey was picking up a black card in a challenge match against Dr Crokes last month.
The four-time All-Ireland winner revealed he was automatically substituted for a challenge on Daithi Casey during a game which convinced him it was time to call it quits.
“I just felt I was in the wrong place. Just a feeling that it was time. So I decided there and then, and told Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) on the Monday. I just felt I wasn’t there.”
The pull of career commitments and a move to Dublin were the primary reasons for his decision, but then there was the push of the advent of the black card, the mandatory wearing of a gumshield and fewer recognisable faces in the Kerry dressing room.
The 34-year-old conceded football had lost some of its lustre for him.
“A little bit of the fun went out of it, you know. Things like the gumshield I found tricky. Like, I played a couple of games and I ended up just throwing it on the ground. Nobody would notice if you weren’t wearing them but I couldn’t talk.
“I couldn’t get my wind and I couldn’t talk to fellas so you’re having to take them out and then I was running around holding mine and the ball would come then and you’d throw it away and go for the ball.
“Things like that might seem small and silly but, like the black card thing as well, that was probably another little thing that you say to yourself, ‘This could be tricky’.”
With Tomás Ó Sé having stepped aside last year, Galvin lost another of his closest buddies in the Kerry set-up.
Players he had soldiered with were being replaced by fresher faces he had only known as students of his in St Brendan’s College.
“In some ways I would have bought into the relationships and that, the camaraderie and the spirit quite a bit. And it does change. That’s not to say it changed for the worst, it just changes. That’s life. That’s the evolution of a team.
“I taught guys that are main players now, do you know what I mean? Fionn Fitzgerald, a super, super player and I’d expect big things from him this year. Him, James (O’Donoghue), Jonathan Lyne, Brian Kelly, the sub goalie... they were all on our school team that went to the All-Ireland, the Hogan Cup final, and there’ll be a couple more coming from the U21 side, I’m sure, when they finish.
“When you were dealing with the fellas that I was dealing with for years, you know, the likes of Darragh (Ó Sé) and Tadhg (Kennelly) and Tomás, you were talking about big characters and raucous kind of guys.
“Every day they would be looking for some bit of mischief or some bit of craic around the place.
“Those guys don’t come along all the time, they’re rare enough in the game. I would have done a good bit of laughing with those fellas.
“I think you probably have a different type of craic now. There’s more of the younger lads now and they’re having their craic now and you’re enjoying that moreso than having your own craic.”
Galvin positively engages when talking about fashion but clearly football’s light has dimmed for him.
However, he still holds strong views about inter-county referees, who he maintains should be professional to engender more respect.
“I was looking at the (England v Ireland) rugby game on Saturday and I can’t remember the ref’s name but he pulled Owen Farrell for the hit on Johnny Sexton and he called Farrell and said, ‘You’ve got to tackle with the body, not with the shoulder’ and Farrell’s reply was, ‘I tried to, sir’.
“The ‘sir’ part at the end was such a difference. The communication levels from the rugby refs and the etiquette in rugby, it’s kind of a gentleman’s sport, but I think the fact that the guy is a paid professional adds to the respect that he has from players.
“I think when there’s only a handful of (Gaelic football) referees at top inter-county level, I’m sure the funds are there but I suppose it’s a step towards professionalism that probably isn’t going to happen.”
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