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Last night's TV: No fashion icon – just a sporting one

WITH seats at a premium during Christmas week, a documentary on Kerry footballer Paul Galvin's year was bound to lead to brawls in many GAA-loving households, even if the year in focus, 2010, was in the player's own words "a s****y year".

Knowing little about the star, I was as much intrigued by his reputation as a "troublemaker" as his merits as a footballer and had the living room to myself to see what the fuss was all about.

This is the man who made regular appearances in the pages of newspapers -- front and back, was a hot ticket on chat shows and a divisive force on radio phone-ins.

Yet there was little to explain why in a documentary that melded a disappointing year for Kerry with the "s****y" year for the star in a narrative that stuttered like a diary with chunks of pages missing.

Scripted by the thinking man's sports writer, Tom Humphries, I was lost at times, to be quite honest.

Even more so when Galvin suddenly became "a dedicated follower of fashion"; particularly when the opening interviews showed him sporting an Adidas top under a grey blazer more suited to a stall holder at farmers' market.

More unintentional fashion gaffes followed when, after laughing down his sleeve at his clobber in the family album we see him hopping on one leg in the physio's room in the most atrocious pair of underpants.

Despite this, Galvin nevertheless came across as a solid and brilliant sportsman, the highlight in the programme being a wonderful take from the Munster semi-final replay against Cork -- the camera trained solely on the player somewhat reminiscent of the filming of Zidane for the 2006 portrait movie.

Only with the sense of injustice building up, it was clear there would never be a portrait movie of this star. This is a man, you felt, who should have been allowed to just get on with the game but wasn't.

He seemed stoic and forgiving when reading about himself for all the wrong reasons in newspapers, portraying him as a regular in Dublin clubs that he had only visited once.

But the wounds were more evident after the panel on The Sunday Game laboured over an "incident" involving Galvin in the game against Cork.

The incident -- Galvin "fish-hooking" another player by putting his finger in his mouth -- was hotly debated by Des Cahill and Co, and the GAA's Control Committee suspended him after reviewing the video following the show.

The same camera that had captured the grace and talents of an athlete was not about to lie for those with their knives out.

Having revealed he quit his job as a teacher, a rather forlorn-looking Galvin walks his dog into the new year -- the comparisons with another great footballer being all too obvious.

You genuinely had to wish him luck.

Hijacked by just about every sport in Ireland, but bellowed in particular by the masses at rugby and football matches, The Fields of Athenry has become one of the greatest cultural conundrums in our history.

It didn't prevent the likes of Fintan O'Toole, Tom McGurk, Diarmaid Ferriter and a gaggle of third generation Irish footballers turning a sod to see if they could dig up anything useful to explain it.

In the end, it was down to an apologetic-looking Celtic supporter who admitted borrowing it because it was "easy to learn" and had a "rousing chorus".

So does Postman Pat.

Still, it was a good excuse to send a gofer into the RTE archives to dig up material from the Charlton era, Munster's glory days, Liverpool's Hillsborough tragedy and some grainy old film from Glasgow Celtic's humble beginnings.

Now can we please choose another song?