Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Paul Galvin, like Tiger Woods, is someone I have admired from afar' - Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan with Luke Fitzgerald after Leinster’s victory over Ulster. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Ian Madigan with Luke Fitzgerald after Leinster’s victory over Ulster. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Ian Madigan hitching a lift to training with Jamie Heaslip. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Marcus Ó Buachalla

There is no other place to start a final Ian Madigan interview in these pages than by talking about one of the most high-profile transfers to hit the back pages recently. But this isn't about the latest galactico to sign for Toulon. And you can keep your José to Man Utd and your Ronaldo to PSG.

This isn't even about Madigan himself and his move to Bordeaux. No. This is about Paul Galvin moving from Lixnaw in Kerry to Kilmacud Crokes in Dublin to play hurling for the former county champions. And Madigan can't wait.

"I think it's a great move for both actually if it comes off. I think it will do wonders for the young players in Kilmacud to have a player of Paul's stature and command in the game join the club. Good for Paul too to be joining a club that has ambition. He's a little bit older sure, but that's a great thing too as you can't buy the experience he will bring to those young hurlers."

Madigan of course played many an underage season with Kilmacud Crokes until his career brought him away from the round ball towards the oval but he never lost interest in the club, in the county or in the fortunes of some of the athletes, like Galvin.


"He's an inspiration to me. And I don't say that lightly. I would have him up there with Tiger Woods as someone that I would have admired from afar, would have read about, would be fascinated by. He had an incredible drive, a passion and a desire. But he was also an incredible athlete, competitor. I enjoyed his book last year. Brilliant insight into what it takes to compete at such a high level for so long."

That yearning to compete at a high level is arguably what is bringing Madigan to pastures new. There is no doubting that he has been at the top of his game and has competed with and against the best that rugby can offer. Guinness Pro12, Champions Cup, Six Nations, a World Cup. He has played in them all. And has medals from three. And yet.

"I just look at Johnny and how well he is playing and I think it's a good time. A new challenge playing a completely different style of rugby to anything I've experienced before. If I don't commit to this now, to back myself to become a first choice out-half with a top club, then I'll never do it. It's a fresh start and I'm looking forward to it."

As he takes a trip down memory lane he again mentions the influence his family and his brother David, in particular, has had on his career, so too Ireland Skills & Kicking coach Richie Murphy.

As for his favourite moment in blue? Well, it's a collection of moments truth be told but all revolving around one venue and around his rugby family, namely his close friends, family and Leinster supporters.

"It's the five-game end-of-season run in 2012/'13 with all five games played in the RDS. It culminated in a Challenge Cup trophy and a Pro12 title won in front of family and friends and to celebrate those key moments in your career with the people that have supported you was very special. That's what stands out for me.

"The RDS is special. The supporters too. Their support in good times and bad over the years has not gone unnoticed."

There are also kind words for one of the unheralded members of the Leinster backroom team.

"I think when people look back over the success of Leinster over the last number of years, the impact that Emmet Farrell has had on the place shouldn't be forgotten. His role as Head Analyst involves breaking down the opposition for us, looking for gaps and weaknesses, hours upon hours poring over video.

"More recently he has taken over the Kicking Coach role and he has brought great variety to that role. Coming in to do kicking practice on your days off could be a drag but what I love about him is he tries to make these sessions as enjoyable as possible and I think both Johnny and I have grown under his guidance. He has huge experience under his belt as a former player but also with the sharp mind that he has from all those hours studying teams and players."

The next chapter though can wait just a little while longer. Pre-season in France starts in July, but it's a shorter pre-season with the Top 14 kicking off in mid-August. Until then his mother and father, who live in Bordeaux for parts of the year, are busy working on the logistics. All of which helps to keep his mind on the here and now, which is Connacht on Saturday.

"I think we are conscious not to get too far ahead of ourselves. If you look back over the season, our consistency in the Guinness Pro12 improved from last year and it was great to finish on top, but did we string many back-to-back solid performances together? No, not too often.

"So yes we were happy with elements of the Ulster win but now it's about the process, the basics and how we get to a point where we can string two really good performances together."

He agrees that the Ulster performance was good. But not as good as some would have you believe.

"I think it's true of both games against Ulster recently. Were we 24 points worse than them in Kingspan? Two yellow cards, an intercept and a penalty try, put a much different complexion on the game. Yes, they were better but that scoreline wasn't a true reflection.


"Same in the RDS. We were good but at this level it's moments and look at that moment where Jamie turns them over at the start of the second half. If they get something there, then maybe they kick on. Instead it's us that get a purple patch. So we know we've work to do this week to perform better and we'll need to."

Both occasions this season against Connacht have been tight - witness the 13-0 win in the RDS and the 7-6 loss in the Sportsground - and he expects no different.

"We've only managed a try each. So you could say we've got each other pretty well sussed out so I think again it will come down to fine margins. Connacht have been excellent all season and I think it's fitting that it's the top two teams, in a superb stadium, that will now play it out for silverware."

The stadium is not the RDS but one more moment in blue with his rugby family, is all he wants. All eyes on Murrayfield.

Irish Independent

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