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I tried to persuade Galvin to play on – Fitzmaurice

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Kerry's Paul Galvin, left, in action against John Hayes, Cork

Kerry's Paul Galvin, left, in action against John Hayes, Cork

Kerry's Paul Galvin, left, in action against John Hayes, Cork

EamonN Fitzmaurice made every effort to persuade Paul Galvin to continue for another season, but his Finuge club mate finally said no.

Within minutes of presiding over a frustrating one-point defeat by Dublin in Croke Park on Saturday night, the Kerry manager was spreading the word that Galvin's days in the green and gold were over.

"Paul is finishing up. He's retiring. He'll be issuing a statement, I'd say fairly shortly," said Fitzmaurice with the air of a man who knew exactly how acute Galvin's loss would be. He was sorely missed on Saturday night among a Kerry attack that would have benefited greatly from his flinty resolve and dogged persistence.

However, at the age of 34, Galvin (below) decided that it was time to move on. Shortly after Fitzmaurice's comments in the Croke Park press room came Galvin's statement. It was standard issue, expressing thanks to his team-mates, managers, County Board and supporters, but didn't give the reason for his exit.

"Most importantly, I want to thank all my team-mates for your heart and friendship over the years. Standing my ground with you in the Kerry jersey was my privilege. I learned more from you than anyone and I am grateful for the opportunity I got to play with some of the best players to ever play the game. Having discussed it (retirement) with the management during the week, we felt it best to announce it after tonight's game."

It was left to Fitzmaurice to flesh out the background to the exit.

"It was just proving too much in terms of logistics and in terms of his body. He considered it through the autumn. I tried to persuade him to give it a go. We met a couple of times during the week to chat it out and I think at the end of the day it's the right decision for him. His life is in Dublin now and trying to split his time as an inter-county footballer between Dublin and Kerry was going to be very difficult. There's no regret on Paul's part," he said.

He revealed that if Galvin had stayed on, he might well have been deployed as a half-back, instead of the half-forward role he filled for over a decade.

"I think he could have done a couple of jobs for us. He mightn't have been a starter all of the time, but then he's 34 years of age. The way he played the game for a lot of years, he took a lot of knocks," said Fitzmaurice.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin joined in the tributes, while also expressing surprise at the news: "He had a good season last year. He caused us a lot of trouble in the All-Ireland semi-final. I was surprised to see him taken off. The biggest testament you could pay him is that you would love to have him on your team."

A colourful, character in a career that yielded All-Ireland medals in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009, Galvin's workrate was an invaluable asset. His combative style inevitably led to controversial incidents, as in 2008 when he slapped the notebook out of Paddy Russell's hands during a Munster championship clash.

He won his last All-Ireland medal in 2009, a year in which he also took the Footballer of the Year award, and continued to be an important cog in the Kerry wheel right up to last year. Unlucky with injuries, the three-time All Star has finally decided to leave the inter-county area at a time when Kerry are very much in transition.

"He gave fantastic service to Kerry and he's given fantastic service to the various clubs as well, with Finuge, with Lixnaw, with Feale Rangers, with UCC. He's had a great time of it and there are certainly no regrets," said Fitzmaurice.

Irish Independent