Saturday 24 March 2018

He has only himself to blame but it was blown out of all proportion

Kingdom's lynchpin must learn to live with the fact that he is a marked man, writes Páidí Ó Sé

Paidi O Se

I hope I am not being perverse, but for me the best bit of news in a week that included Kerry's epic win over Cork last Sunday was the disclosure that Paul Galvin was not going to appeal his eight-week suspension.

Only two years ago, the Galvin saga and the endless appeals and legal bureaucracy hung a dark cloud over Kerry all through the championships and had no small part to bear on their eventual failure against Tyrone in the final.

I'm glad there will be no repeat of this legalistic nightmare this year and that Galvin should be back in action for the All-Ireland semi-final, if Kerry get that far.

If I were to be judgmental, I would say that Paul Galvin has only himself to blame.

He knows well by now that he is a marked man, both in the eyes of opponents and of referees.

It's difficult to put up with, it's frustrating and, at times, downright head-wrecking, but that's life.

Galvin has to put up with it and he will painfully learn the wisdom of control and forbearance -- things that are easy to say but are not easy to achieve.

Having said that, I strongly deplore the trial by television that led to Galvin getting the hammer once again.

In all, there were seven match officials in Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday and, if they didn't spot anything, it's not for the television pundits to do so for them.

Paul Galvin didn't even have his name taken by the referee, but some members of the panel on RTE raised such a furore that the GAA were drawn into a knee-jerk reaction.

Anthony Tohill, in particular, was trying to "do a Dunphy" -- something that is all very well as far as getting television ratings is concerned, but which is very often inimical to the interests of the game, the players and the championships themselves. There is no doubt that, right now, Paul Galvin is very frustrated and very disappointed, having given a very clever display of football last Sunday and once more having reignited the Kerry team when he came on.

He showed his intelligence, in particular, during extra-time, when he demonstrated his composure and skill at holding the ball and wearing down the clock.

The minute Galvin came on the pitch, Cork's Graham Canty had a cut out at him.

But Galvin overcame the obsessive verbal and physical attention he was getting and was probably the best man on the field last Sunday after he came on.

In the end of the day, the thing was blown out of all proportion by the GAA bureaucracy, who have to learn to think for themselves and not be dictated to by RTE pundits.

The Kerry team is, not surprisingly, incensed and my nephew, Darragh, put it pithily when he accused the panellist Tohill of being "judge and jury".

Mikey Sheehy, normally the mildest of men, said in his column in The Kerryman: "There would be a lot of anger over it in Kerry.

"They [the panellists] highlighted that particular incident and they also made reference to Graham Canty's tackle on Paul when he was introduced, but there were a couple of other incidents that I feel should have been highlighted," Sheehy wrote.

But let's not let this unhappy episode stop us from savouring Kerry's marvellous feat in overcoming Cork by a point last Sunday after extra-time.

These Cork-Kerry encounters in the Munster championships are, these days, superseding everything else that is going on in the game, including the All-Ireland finals.

We had everything last Sunday, skill, physicality, a fierce will to win, courage, commitment, tenacity and a never-say-die attitude from both sides, all contributing to another epic.

There is so much to relish on the Kerry side, the ineffable genius of Colm Cooper, the huge strides Kieran Donaghy has made as an all-round full-forward, the emerging talent of young Barry John Keane when he came on again to play a crucial part and, of course, the ability of Galvin to lift the whole team when he comes on the field.

Okay, I got it wrong, I thought the scales would tip Cork's way after 70 minutes, at which stage it was a draw thanks to Marc O Se's marvellous point taken with a coolness and presence of mind in a pressure-cooker situation that was a model for young players.

At least I advised my readers to have a punt on the draw at 15/2, which was the situation after 70 minutes, the cut-off point that matters as far as the bookmakers are concerned.

There is, of course, no guarantee that Kerry will get to the All-Ireland semi-final and Limerick are sure to put up quite a bit of a challenge to them in the Munster final, but I am looking forward to Galvin's re-emergence if Kerry get to the penultimate stage of the All-Ireland.

P.S I have been delving into a short essay on "the Murphys of Camp", by Matt Leen, of St Brendan's Park, Tralee, which includes vivid descriptions of the great Kerry footballers, Sean and Seamus Murphy, as well as their brothers, Padraig and Tomas, who were also fine players. More of that, I hope, anon.

Sunday Independent

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