Saturday 27 May 2017

Boston trip set Galvin on the path to Banner renewal

Clare's Colm Galvin (L) and Waterford's Austin Gleeson pictured at the Allianz NHL Division 1 final, which takes place on Sunday Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Clare's Colm Galvin (L) and Waterford's Austin Gleeson pictured at the Allianz NHL Division 1 final, which takes place on Sunday Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Roll out all the old clichés about absence making the heart grow fonder and faraway hills being greener.

But for Colm Galvin they were applicable on a Sunday morning late last May in a house in the suburbs of Boston as he sat watching the final minutes of Clare's slender Munster Championship defeat to Limerick.

Galvin had gone to the US a month earlier and was playing with the local Tipperary club, fulfilling a simple desire that a 22-year-old, already in the midst of his fourth inter-county season, might have to "see the world".

But that frantic finish in Thurles left his head in a spin.

"The last two minutes I had my head in my hands," he recalled. "Because I felt that I could have brought something, even if it was a point or a pass or a pull, that they might have got over the line. It was very hard to watch it."

Boston had become a lot further away all of a sudden and while he played on and enjoyed hurling on America's east coast, Ireland's west coast was calling and within a month he was back.

"I wasn't doing a whole lot out there. I knew a few fellas and I took my time. We'd trained Tuesdays and Thursdays and played a match at the weekend so you weren't losing too much fitness but it was nothing compared to inter-county," he reflected.

"I said if I come home I might be able to come back in and give something. I knew I wouldn't be starting any match but even if it was five minutes, if I could give a hand or something like that, a bit of a lift to the lads coming home. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

Galvin's decision to go was held up as the prime example of possible fatigue and restlessness among a generation of young Clare players who had won a trio of All-Ireland U-21 titles on top of and either side of that 2013 All-Ireland senior success.

Davy Fitzgerald himself had envisaged challenging days ahead for the group on the morning after their replay win over Cork when he spoke to the media in the Clyde Court Hotel.

Perpetual

The grind, Galvin accepts now, had taken an edge off a game that is predicated on almost perpetual movement.

"I suppose it nearly came down to not putting in the same work rate that we have been (putting in). We were still putting in the same training, don't get me wrong.

"It was just things weren't going our way and Clare people were getting on our backs a bit. I could understand why they were because they were expecting us to be contenders for 2014 and 2015.

"And it's very frustrating for us, as players, and the management, when things don't go our way. I was off a little bit anyway. We weren't as a team putting in the same amount of hooks and blocks as we were in previous years.

"We weren't making the same number of tackles. And when you don't match the number of tackles as the Kilkennys, the Tipps and the Waterfords, you're not going to win."

For Galvin, the hardest part was not arriving at the decision to go, it was relaying the news to his manager!

Knowing how Fitzgerald puts his heart and soul into the team the two hours before training that night were spent with some trepidation.

"It was tough enough alright to tell the management team more so than make the flight arrangements! It was tough for about two hours before training, but after that? Look, to be fair to Davy, I can't say a bad word, he took it fairly well. He was very good about it, he didn't have any negativity towards me. He told me if I wanted to come back in there would be no problem and that was a brilliant thing for him to have said.

"It made me go away with ease, it didn't make me not want to go back. So that's probably more of a reason why I came back after I went away.

"I just wanted to go away and see a bit of the world. Because when you're playing at this level, you might see us training and playing matches in February, but we've four months' work done at that stage. Whether you're with the team or on your own you're still training because at this level if you leave yourself go between September and Christmas and try to catch up in February then it's not going to happen. You have to keep yourself in line year in, year out.

"Everyone needs their break. The likes of Johnny Glynn has gone over there now as well. Inter-county is no joke. It's professional.

"I'm only 23 now and this is my fifth year on the panel already so it's a lot of mileage on the clock but at the same time we're in a good place with Clare at the moment."

It took a while for Galvin to rediscover his drive. Clonlara lost the county final to a Sixmilebridge team inspired by the 39-year-old Niall Gilligan and that left Galvin somewhat frustrated but news of big additions to the Clare backroom team at the of April harnessed a new effort.

"People were probably thinking, 'This is a recipe for disaster' but it hasn't been. Both (Fitzgerald and coach Dónal óg Cusack) listen to each other's opinions, and that of the forwards' coach. Dónal mainly works with the backs. From the goalie's view, he knows what's going on. He's very good tactically that way."

Beating Kilkenny has given them added impetus, "justice" he feels after last year's relegation play-off defeat that he felt they left behind.

"No-one has beaten Kilkenny like that in a while so it probably put self-belief in ourselves."

Irish Independent

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