Galvin's return should allow Banner boys to have major say
It has been a positive 24 hours for Clare hurling that might, yet, reverberate into the business end of this year's championship.
No sooner had they been granted the coveted home venue in Monday morning's All-Ireland qualifier draw than word began to percolate that Colm Galvin had returned home from Boston.
An official statement yesterday confirmed that the 2013 All-Star would train with Clare this week and could even be in contention for a jersey against Offaly in Ennis on July 4.
Galvin flew to Boston with the blessing of Clare's management on April 28, having been a mainstay of three successive All-Ireland-winning U-21 teams as well as the senior side that claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup so dramatically two years ago.
He had been toying with the idea of a summer in the US for some time, but hurling commitments continually intervened. His father, Kevin, was Clonlara manager last season and this year's man in charge, Sean Stack, expressed frustration last April with GAA rules that facilitated a player being registered in America as "local" once he made the journey across before May.
That said, it was always Galvin's hope that he would return to play some role in Clare's and Clonlara's seasons, albeit he had yet to book a return ticket when he travelled out.
He explained in April: "I said to my parents that, if I don't go now, I never will. I'd been thinking about doing it for the last two or three years."
Galvin was free of exam pressure this summer at Limerick's Mary Immaculate College, so decided the time was opportune. He first broached the idea with Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald as far back as December and was met with a supportive response. In February, he confirmed his intention to travel.
"Davy's been very good," he remarked at the time. "He said that there would be a place there for me when I came back, but that I'd have to fight hard. I couldn't ask for any more than that."
While in Boston, Galvin hurled with the Tipperary club and followed a disciplined fitness and gym programme. His two goals helped Tipp win the Sheehan Cup final in Canton and, if it seems improbable that he will now see game time against Offaly, Galvin's return represents a significant lift to Clare's summer hopes.
A highly flexible, intelligent hurler, his almost telepathic link-up play with Tony Kelly especially has been a fundamental of Clare's most recent successes.
And, given that Fitzgerald was also deprived the services of two other All-Stars, Brendan Bugler (suspended) and Conor McGrath (injured) for their one-point defeat to Limerick on May 24, Clare's hand suddenly seems massively strengthened.
Although without a championship victory since their All-Ireland final replay defeat of Cork in 2013 and, having suffered relegation in the league after a tightly-contested play-off against Kilkenny, they will be broadly expected to beat an Offaly team well beaten by Laois on their last outing.
In yesterday's statement, Fitzgerald welcomed Galvin's return, reflecting: "Ahead of his departure to the US, the management team assured Colm that the door would remain open for his return to the squad should he decide to come home over the course of the summer.
"During the past couple of weeks, Colm expressed his desire to return and, through regular communication with his father, Kevin, we were only too delighted to invite him to rejoin the squad. Colm is an exceptionally talented hurler and had been a key figure in the Clare side up to his departure following the National League in April.
"Pending match fitness, I expect that Colm will be part of the match-day panel in next week's Qualifier tie."