Cork v Kerry Tomorrow: Pairc Ui Rinn, 2pm Referee: A Nolan, Wicklow TV: TG4 (deferred) Bet: Cork 10/11, Kerry 11.10, Draw 15/2 Paul Galvin’s return to the Kerry fold hinged on the 35-year-old moving back to the Kingdom for the duration of the football season, Eamonn Fitzmaurice revealed last night.
The All-Ireland winning manager insisted it was Galvin’s own decision to leave Dublin and return to living in Kerry, “a big part of the jigsaw” in his retirement u-turn. Though it was never franked as the reason he walked away in February 2014, Fitzmaurice said the commute from the capital twice-weekly wasn’t feasible and so his circumstances had to change was he to once again don the green and gold.
Galvin first intimated his desire to come out of retirement in mid-December, management rubber-stamping his return at the end of January. A sense of “unfinished business” and “an itch still to scratch” lured the four-time All-Ireland winner back onto the inter-county scene, according to brother-in-law Fitzmaurice. He was adamant there was no proviso to Galvin’s return.
The 2009 footballer of the year is not included in the squad for this weekend’s league trip to Cork and no date was offered as to his reappearance inside the whitewash. Cards were also kept close to the chest with regard to Galvin’s role this summer, be it that of a first-team regular or impact substitution.
“Paul and I had a general chat [before Christmas] and it came up. He felt that if circumstances were right he might be in a position to have a go at it,” the Kerry boss explained.
“I felt it was a good idea the more we discussed it, depending on certain conditions. Depending that his body was in good shape, which it is. Depending that he could live in Kerry for the duration of the season which he is going to do and he’s able to work remotely now which means that he is not tied to Dublin the way he was 12 months ago.
“I think when both of those started to come together, he went away then for a period to get his body into shape and to get fit basically. He’s worked hard for the last eight or so weeks.
“I think football-wise he always felt there was probably a bit of unfinished business there. But you know his circumstances and his life 13 months ago meant that it wasn’t feasible to maintain playing. He tried it for six weeks and it just proved too hard commuting up and down from Dublin, particularly with back issues. In terms of his life balance, it just wasn’t working out. If he was going to have a cut off it again, he was going to have to move to Kerry. He understood that.”
Fitzmaurice continued: “I think that as last year went on, he probably found it tough over the summer looking in from the outside. When the season finished up he probably had a good think about it and felt he still had a bit to offer. His big thing was that he wanted to come back and help.”
Does he feel he has something still to prove? “Every time you put on the Kerry jersey you have something to prove. I am sure he is quite secure in his achievements. He feels he still has a bit more to give.”
Pat Spillane has described Galvin’s return as an unnecessary “distraction”. Such an opinion is nothing more than “noise”, responded Fitzmaurice.
He accepts the risk taken on the part of his once team-mate, but believes from the squad’s perspective there is nothing to lose. Their defence of Sam Maguire will not hinge on this one development.
“We [the management] went away and thought about it individually. We came back again and were unanimous that from our point of view, and from the squad’s point of view, there’s nothing to be lost.
“From Paul’s perspective, maybe there is a bit of a risk. I think regardless of how this goes, his legacy is secure. People know the service he’s given to Kerry. If it doesn’t work out then so be it. He’ll have had a go at it, what’s the big deal? It is not going to be the winning and losing of an All-Ireland. The pros far outweigh the cons. I feel it is a win-win situation.”
On the Spillane jibe, he added: “Paul is box office. He is a bit like Roy Keane, every time something happens, someone has an opinion one way or the other. I have said it in the past, whatever is being said outside the camp is noise. The only thing that counts really is what is going on in our squad, the management’s opinion and, ultimately, my opinion.”
With such a depth of talent in their forward unit, surely the Finuge footballer’s role will be further back the field?
“We’re open-minded about it, we’ll see how it works out. Paul is coming into it with his eyes wide open. Paul knows he’s just another player. He has catching up to do. The players know that it’s just increasing the competition.
“I know these players well, it will only harden their resolve that they are not going to be the player to lose out. That has to be the mentality because if a fella is looking over his shoulder when a fella comes out of retirement, if that’s his mindset he’s not going to be much good to you in Croke Park in the heat of battle.
“He’ll bring leadership, he’ll bring a lot. He’s good with younger players and he’ll give them plenty of advice. He’s full of energy, he’s very fresh. It’s a different angle for us again.”
On their league fixture away to Cork tomorrow, Fitzmaurice concluded: “I don’t think Cork’s season was as bad as people made out last year. They weren’t that far from an All-Ireland semi-final.
“Paul Geaney has a hip problem which should be cleared up by next week. Barry John Keane, though, has earned his start. We might have four points, but the league is so tight that if we lose on Sunday, and with Donegal coming to town the following weekend, you can straightaway be looking at relegation.”
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