It was a game that will be quickly scrubbed from the memory but for one player, the 32-point thrashing Limerick handed out to Kilkenny last Saturday was a hugely significant occasion.
A Division 4 tie in Newcastlewest against the basement county was as low-key a GAA setting imaginable, yet the substitute that Limerick boss Maurice Horan pushed into action in the 41st minute embraced the occasion with feverish excitement.
Ten months after his cruciate ligament snapped in a challenge against Down in Santry, the road to recovery was complete for Limerick’s celebrated midfielder, John Galvin.
“I reckon I was the most excited person in the ground,” laughed the Croom man. “It was very low key but that suited me. It was a game that we knew we’d always win and that was in our minds when I was chatting to Maurice (Horan) last week about it.
“As we were playing Kilkenny, who I don’t mean any disrespect to, we felt it was a game I could come back into. It was not a high-pressure game and when I came on, we were well ahead. If it had been a tight match with just a point between the teams, I doubt I’d have come on. In truth, I gained more out of it than anyone else.”
It was a perfect game to mark his reintroduction to inter-county football yet the combat on the pitch generated anxiety as to how his knee would fare.
“It’s in your head about the knee alright. I took one or two belts early on and it’s great after that when you realise the knee is okay. It’s a mental thing really and you just need to try to get the confidence back up. There were no after-effects at all and it’s just fantastic to come through it.”
Despite his long hiatus from football, there has been no disconnect between Galvin and the current Limerick squad. He was a waterboy for last summer’s campaign when they achieved a dramatic qualifier win over Wexford in Portlaoise and sampled the championship stage in Croke Park for the first time. Since they went back training in January at their Rathkeale base, Galvin has been working away during their sessions as well.
“I’ve been training in the same field as the lads from the start of the season. I’ve been back in contact training for the last four or five weeks.”
For now, he is simply glad to be featuring in Limerick colours. The thought of summer championship days have been parked as he focuses on getting game time. Sunday’s trip to Aughrim to face Wicklow is a new target.
“It depends really how this week goes. We’ll go training tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday before deciding on next Sunday. If the Wicklow game is tight then it could be different, you can’t really afford to be bringing on a sub that would be a liability. I’m a long way from being up to speed. It’s been a slow process. But I’ve never doubted my love for football and I’m looking forward to the year.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved