Many people were surprised when word got out last week that Paul Galvin (31) will shortly be playing Sigerson Cup football because he is enrolling at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), to study for a postgraduate diploma in Fashion -- for which an honours degree is an entry condition.
I don't know why anybody should be surprised about anything that happens to the Finuge player these days and while many wondered how a 31-year-old suddenly became eligible to play in the Sigerson Cup just a matter of weeks before the competition commences, well, we can only assume it is the power of education which causes wondrous things to happen -- especially to well-known GAA players.
There was a time when legality to play Sigerson and Fitzgibbon third-level competitions was very straightforward -- people were admitted to courses in the autumn, they registered with the relevant college and their credentials to play in these competitions was thereby legalised by the third-level institution in question. We were all so innocent in those days!
Nowadays the scenario is totally different for two main reasons: 1. The expansion of third-level institutions all over Ireland, and 2. The myriad of different courses now available in these colleges.
The combination of these two things has turned third-level qualification into a minefield of rules, regulations and varying commencement dates.
Not surprisingly some college GAA clubs have availed of this laxity to stretch the spirit of the law, if not the letter, to extraordinary lengths.
Nowadays people who are working full-time but undertake courses for a few hours a week to advance their careers are eligible, it seems. But in the past decade even stranger things have happened and there was one very famous All-Ireland winner who won a Sigerson medal but hardly ever stood in the college in question and never sat an exam. As I said, a little education can go a long way when it comes to playing in the Sigerson or Fitzgibbon.
I can only assume that Paul Galvin is eligible to play Sigerson football because back in my time in UCD I, sadly, was never regarded as an expert in Fashion and Design courses.
Agriculture, Arts, Medicine, Law, Commerce and Veterinary were the staple diets in those times for Sigerson and Fitzgibbon players. I can think of quite a few such players in the past who might struggle to cope with lectures in Fashion & Design.
The notion that a player could emerge from nowhere to be eligible for the Sigerson competition in the month of January would also have caused ripples but then we live in wondrous times.
Judging by the number of different colleges some students have played Sigerson with, and the length of time others have attended in one college, we must be thankful that the GAA is blessed with such creative and studious young men in comparison with the plebs we used to have who only spent three or four years in just one third-level institution.
Maybe after all, a little learning was a dangerous thing?