Friday 15 December 2017

O'Sullivan insists 'gladiator' Galvin will lift Limerick

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

THE Chicago Bears of the 1980s had 'The Refrigerator' but Limerick have 'The Galvinator.'

William Perry of American football team the Bears earned the 'Fridge' nickname for his huge physical size; John Galvin gets his moniker for the iconic status he commands within the Limerick football set-up.

It's not that he's small in stature. Galvin is big, tough and rugged, as any opponent will tell you.

But his presence alone is a psychological boost, especially as he has fought back from a cruciate injury to make the subs bench for tonight's Munster SFC semi-final against Clare at the Gaelic Grounds.

Is it a bluff or a risk on the part of Limerick boss Maurice Horan?

After all, a return to action after nine weeks, following an injury that usually keeps players out for a year, is remarkably accelerated progress.

Former Limerick boss and Kerry All-Ireland winner Mickey Ned O'Sullivan doesn't know how fit Galvin is, but he appreciates the value of his inclusion in the panel for this crucial match.

O'Sullivan, who spent five years in charge of Limerick before finishing with them in 2010, reflects: "Galvin is the life and soul of Limerick. He's like a warrior, like a gladiator in the Roman times.

"He gets incredible respect from the players. In my time he talked the talk, but he walked the walk as well. Nothing would amaze me about John Galvin because he can go through every barrier, psychological as well as physical, because he's mentally very strong.

"Having him there, togging off would give Limerick a morale boost at the very least."

The thought of Galvin looming in the wings doesn't give Clare manager Micheal McDermott sleepless nights, and he predicts a likely appearance for the big guy at some stage of the match.

McDermott was involved with the Limerick club scene as manager of Monaleen, who won the 2011 senior football championship with county stars Ger Collins and Paul Kinnerk on board.

"There's no doubt about it: John Galvin is a huge addition to Limerick, even if there was only 10 or 15 minutes in him," McDermott says. "He's an inspirational figure.

"If the game is in the melting pot with 10 or 15 minutes to go I have no doubt that Galvin would be taking the field to maybe try and get them over the line, but you never really look at the opposition.

"You have to worry about your own performance."

The match is set up for a fascinating contest. Limerick are bidding to reach the Munster final for the fifth time in 10 seasons, while Clare are desperately seeking a championship win of any kind for the first time in three years.

A provincial draw that pits Cork and Kerry together in the semi-finals means that opportunity knocks for the lesser counties.

And the intimacy between the Banner and the Treaty teams is only enhanced by the Monaleen links with McDermott.

"That probably helps them (Limerick) as much as it helps me because Monaleen lads involved like Paul Kinnerk and Ger Collins would know my thinking and the way I like the game to be played," explains McDermott.

Neighbours

"But the long and short of it is there are no secrets. The Limerick and Clare lads know each other really well because we're next-door neighbours and we've played each other quite a bit over the last number of years between league and championship.

"If we play to our best, we know we're in with a good shout. That's all you can ask for going into a championship match."

Last year Limerick reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals via the qualifiers under Horan, but Clare present a huge threat to their hopes of a repeat in 2012.

And O'Sullivan warns: "Clare are very formidable opposition for Limerick.

"Limerick have always edged it slightly but Clare are still strong, they're motivated. In saying that, a lot of the forwards I had with Limerick are more mature now.

"Ger Collins, Ian Ryan -- those lads have had an awful lot of football and they're two or three years older now and I would expect them to be coming to their peak.

"If they get enough good-quality ball they'll make it hard for anyone."

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