John Galvin isn’t on social media.
Yet there was no escaping the gushing comments saluting his retirement yesterday. “I don’t have a Twitter account but a friend of mine rang and said I’m a better footballer now than before I retired!”
From former manager Maurice Horan to a catalogue of team-mates and opponents, they formed a disorderly queue to acknowledge one of the finest midfielders of his generation.
The 34-year-old leaves with nothing material to show for his endeavours but four Munster final appearances and three All Star nominations. For a footballer who embodied absolute commitment, it’s ironic he departs having come so agonisingly close on numerous occasions to collective and individual honours.
On top of that, there were the couple of cruciate injuries which affected the autumn of his inter-county career and yet he returned to contribute more.
“Disappointment in not winning stuff is one thing, but I’m disappointed I did my cruciates. I never got back to the level I wanted to since. I think if I hadn’t done them I would have played on for another year. I just wasn’t reaching where I wanted to reach.”
Like he did with his old partner John Quane and sometimes on his own, Galvin was a totemic figure who commanded the respect of Cork and Kerry. In the 2010 final, it was his tour de force which brought Limerick to within a whisker of only a second ever senior provincial title.
That’s the one that sticks in his craw most. “I suppose 2010 gets at me maybe because it was the last one (Munster final). We started so well and Kerry came back. We were seven points down, we scored 1-4 in five minutes and we couldn’t get a point in the final 10 minutes to go ahead.
“It’s a complete mental thing and I’m a firm believer in working the mental side of the game. We had chances and we didn’t take them but to score 1-4 in five minutes and not be able to score a point in 10 minutes is something I will never understand. It was something mental, one that really gets to me after we came back so quickly at them.”
What made it worse was pushing Cork to the edge in the subsequent qualifier only to lose once more. “After we were beaten by Kerry, we were beaten by Cork in extra-time in the qualifiers and they went on and won the All-Ireland. They were awful close games and we couldn’t come out the good side of either of them.
“It was great to compete at that level but the fact we didn’t win either of them was disappointing. I wouldn’t say they were things I regret but they will always be things I will be disappointed by, that we never made that breakthrough. It would have been a massive boost to the team and Limerick football to have done it.
“It would be fantastic to be retiring today with two Munster titles and competing in an All-Ireland quarter-final or something like that but that’s sport, really. It doesn’t always go your way. But, really, I’ve had a good career. I went from 1999 to 2009 and missed just one Championship game. I didn’t have a bad run before the cruciates, which put a bit of a downer on it towards the end.”
Galvin now stands as a reminder of what was great and good about Limerick football but he believes they can enjoy another purple patch if they improve on their consistency in matches. “There has been retirements and there has been a transition period with a lot of younger players having come in. It’s up to other fellas to step up and take on the work-rate that is required to get to the highest level.
“The players are there. Last year, we had some great moments where we played fantastic football for 10 or 15 minutes but we just didn’t seem to put a game together. I think that’s the next step they’re going to have to take, to perform for 70 minutes instead of 15 minutes.
“If they can get that right, because there are some brilliant forward there like Ger Collins and Ian Ryan, they will put defences under pressure. Some of them just need a bit of experience and they have to keep pushing on now.”
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