What's eating Paul Galvin
Published 27/12/2010 | 05:00
HE has four All-Ireland football championship medals. And now we know that he has 80 pairs of shoes. Will the real Paul Galvin stand up please?
You see, at the moment we're having difficulty finding out. None of our business, you may say. Well then, why is he parading across our screens when a million people and more are watching?
After Galvin's latest brush with the RTE television cameras, it is difficult to know whether he will play for Kerry's footballers ever again. Or whether he can possibly be as committed as he needs to be.
What's really eating Paul Galvin?
"I'm tired," he said recently. His physical toll was compounded by his club's late run in the local intermediate championship; his mental toil seems apparent to all as he struggles to deal with his future commitment to Gaelic Football.
It should be a private struggle, but incongruously Galvin has pursued the Katie Price approach.
For someone who glorifies in dissing the print and television media, it seems rather an eccentric response to allow oneself to be filmed strutting around Manhattan sporting a cleavage that would make even Georgia Salpa blush.
Each to their own and all that. We offer no demands upon Paul Galvin to ascertain who he is or what he stands for. But sadly so many others have.
A few years back, he was coaching his St Brendan's College team to a final in Portlaoise and was so utterly absorbed in his team's preparations that he had to be physically alerted to the chants emanating from merely yards behind his back.
"Paul Galvin is a w**ker!" intoned the teenaged tenors.
This sort of stuff has followed him around the football turf ever since he first travelled the few miles to Finuge from his North Kerry hurling homestead of Lixnaw; the latter sport is probably still his first love, but the Kingdom's big ball tradition offered an irresistible lure.
It has rewarded and tormented in equal measures since -- for every Sam Maguire medal and individual bauble, notably 2009's restorative Footballer of the Year Award, there have been the disciplinary depressions.
All this month, the phrase "pantomime baddie" has trailed his name in press releases. Does he care? You wonder. Perhaps not, as expressions of regret are always cloaked in the typical, roguish ambiguity beloved of his county men and shared even more widely among his sport's participants.
But then at other times he appreciates why a reputation follows him, sadly overshadowing the fact that he is one of this generation's outstanding footballers.
To some, Galvin is "a dirty fecker, but some player." To others he is "a great player who can dish it out." Perspective skews priority.
Those who can see past the "dirty fecker" image appreciate the footballing gifts, the urgent physicality that this month saw him complete a game, despite receiving a concussive blow after just two minutes, then a hefty knock to the shoulder, and all the while burdened by a problematic groin strain.
A seemingly slim frame nevertheless houses a finely toned, muscular body where not a millimetre of fat is allowed to roam.
Which is why the occasional outbursts of aggressions remain inexplicable, responding to someone like Eoin Cadogan with a 'fish hook' to obviate a supposed blizzard of blows makes little sense.
Laughing off historic indiscretions seems out of kilter with the seemingly extraordinary bursts of post-match energy deemed necessary to defend each recidivist action.
Even more incongruous is the image of someone purporting to sashay into the cluttered chaos of Ireland's zzzz-list celebrity culture affecting ignorance of his sport's broadcasting Leviathan, 'The Sunday Game.' "I don't have a hang up on the show," he offered gauchely on 'The Late Late' sofa.
"I don't watch it regularly."
From thence to a careful dissection of the show's panellists, with the careful exception of his purportedly perennial torturer, Anthony Tohill, upon whom he refused to land even the softest of taps from any one of his 160 shoes.
"I avoid the newspapers," he continued, which renders his regular appearances in rambling interviews therein yet another confusing addition to an increasingly perplexing personality.
Despite avoiding newspapers and refusing to watch 'The Sunday Game,' Galvin still proclaims himself desperately desirous of a need to decamp to Manhattan to "silence his critics," showing off his 'he-vage' like some post-modern Rab C Nesbitt figure.
"There's loads of places in New York you can go to be yourself and relax a bit," he says, as one conjures up images of paparazzi from the National Enquirer chasing him down as he seeks solace in McGovern's Bar.
His self-professed admiration for a certain Roy Keane manifests itself in this side of his character, an over-exalted expression of the ego which, in his case, assumes that more of life which we know revolves around Paul Galvin, rather than the other way around.
All the while, the football fan in you just finds yourself desperately hoping that he can just realise that perhaps the best place he can rediscover himself is on the football field, and not as someone paying homage to Jude Law in a Manhattan bar.
Apparently, he's been back in the gym, fulfilling a full-time regime as he seeks to regain as much fitness as recent ailments can allow; he is re-building upper body muscle and will attempt to step up rehabilitation on his tremendous engine in the New Year.
The groin trouble is mercifully almost a thing of history, now, after a visit to Sunderland through the good offices of Niall Quinn resulted in him clearing the source of his groin issues, a cartilage problem.
"I feel right now there are a lot of things out there I can do," he says. "But finding something that suits football is the problem."
If it is media work, his performance on 'The Late Late Show' will not have had agents' heads buzzing with excitement as his interview was only slightly more soporifically delivered than the Sea Area Forecast.
The difficulties of a career in fashion, the ridiculed 'Expose' tale earlier this year and the fact that he declares that a fashion course in DIT may not fit in with football all offer hope that he may re-commit fully to Kerry in 2011.
For that is all that really matters now.
And yet, whenever he talks of having nothing left to prove, a shuddering sense of icy reality grips his supporters; whenever sports people tend to talk like this, it often presages retirement.
One dearly hopes not, but the confusing messages currently emanating from Galvin make it difficult to ascertain his next move.
Hell, he may not even know it himself.
None of us know what he really wants to say or do.
All we do know is that it would be a damn sight more preferable to see him trodding the turf in green and gold next summer. And in the only pair of aul' boots that really matter to Paul Galvin.