A Tale of Two Paul Galvin’s


One of the finest Gaelic footballers of the past ten years has called time on his life in a Kerry jersey. Paul Galvin, was a magnificent player who won every honour the game had to offer.

There were two Galvin’s throughout his glittering career; the hardworking, intelligent footballer who along with Brian Dooher and Paul Flynn epitomised the new all action modern day wing forward. And there was the Paul Galvin who swiped a notebook out of a referee’s hand in a fit of rage, who stuck his fingers in Eoin Cadogan’s mouth and who was sent off far too often for any Kerry person’s liking.

On the back of his notoriety as the GAA’s number one villain, he has successfully forged a living out his interest in fashion and music, leaving behind a not incident free life as a secondary school teacher. This all raises great issues about Gaelic football players. They are not paid to play the games they love, but are subjected to intense public and personal examination by all and sundry. Galvin, more than any other player, divided people across the country and was relentlessly scrutinised in the media.

If Galvin hadn’t been the bad boy he was characterised as, then he almost certainly wouldn’t be doing so well off the field as he is now. If he had been able to maintain his cool perhaps Kerry might have won more All Ireland’s, but he might not be as content as he seems to be with his new found fame. For many, this remains the biggest unanswered question surrounding his glittering career. His impact on the Kerry team was so palpable that it is hard to avoid the sense that he and the team under-achieved partly because of his frequent absence from the field of play.

Despite protestations to the contrary, he has never shied away from the media attention, appearing on The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy and inviting television cameras into his house for a special documentary-Galvinised-which gave a fascinating insight into what it meant to him to play for his club, his county and the time and dedication required from a senior inter county player.

You do not win four All-Ireland’s, three All-Star awards and Footballer of the Year if you are a mediocre player. Instead, he was a terrific competitor, capable of kicking scores with either foot, possessed a manic hunger for breaking ball and had great vision and excellent distribution. He could never be accused of not giving his all on the field of play and right up until his final appearance against Dublin last August he gave a tremendous display before tired legs saw him being substituted.

But his career cannot be without regrets however, especially in 2008 when he was captain of a team seeking to win three championships in a row and cement their place as one of the greatest teams of all time. Undoubtedly, the GAA has lost a great player, and will be a lot less colourful for it.

For Kerry, another player has entered the pantheon. Four medals represent an acceptable haul in the kingdom, but now a new person must step into the breach and forge their own legacy. A jersey has been vacated; it is up to the next player to distinguish the green and gold further.

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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