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Galvin pays heavy price for his 'bad' reputation

TRIAL by media is nothing new for Paul Galvin. He is a celebrity, a notoriety, a marked man and is in a complex circumstance familiar to Hollywood superstars but not always the lot of a Gaelic footballer.

The rights and wrongs of throwing a duster in the classroom in my own alma mater, St Brendan's College, Killarney, is something I am not equipped to go into.

It is easy to be judgmental about Galvin, who the world knows has a short fuse. There are those who say that he draws a lot of the attention he receives to himself and that, if he lives by the sword, he should be prepared to die by the sword. But he has paid a heavy price too: he is continually goaded on the football pitch and his head is well above the parapet as far as referees are concerned.

Galvin had a nightmare year in 2008, when he managed to get into a fracas in a Munster championship match against Clare, with the linesman, his own captain and finally the referee, Paddy Russell, whose notebook he knocked to the ground. As far as impetuosity goes, this was a world-class effort!

The punishment meted out to him blighted his entire championship season and hung like a cloud over Kerry, who paid the price by losing the All-Ireland. To his credit, Galvin showed character, willpower and restraint by coming back last year to play a central part in Kerry's triumph.

In 2008, I believe the origins of some of his problems lay in a piece of typically overblown prose, in which a gun-slinging Clint Eastwood was used as a metaphor for Galvin's dark and dangerous presence.

While this seemed to be in praise of Galvin, it did him no good at all, especially with opponents and referees. But he learned the hard way and seemed to have moved out of controversy and into a place of eminence and respect, at least in his own county. After all, a 30-year-old footballer hasn't got an infinite amount of time left in the game.

Galvin seemed to have moved on from being a brooding cult figure to becoming one of the great and the good of the game and was much in demand for presentation of medals to juvenile teams and for social celebrations.

Once more, I would urge Paul to focus on football. Kerry have plenty of challenges ahead this year and they don't need any distractions of this sort.

I was saddened to learn of the death last Thursday of one of the true greats of the game, Mick Higgins of Cavan, who won three All-Ireland medals between 1947 and 1952. Mick was the last surviving member of that great Cavan team that beat Kerry in the Polo Grounds in 1947.

I never saw him play, but I learned enough about him to know that he was among the game's really great players in an era that produced many outstanding footballers, such as Sean Flanagan, Kevin Heffernan and Sean Murphy.

Sunday Independent