Colm Galvin positioned to answer call of Davy Fitzgerald
A brief exile to America was not enough to dampen appetite of Clare’s All Star midfielder
Clare’s Colm Galvin breaks his hurley while tussling with Lester Ryan of Kilkenny during the Allianz Hurling League semi-final at Semple Stadium earlier this month. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.
Exactly a year ago to the day Colm Galvin called manager Davy Fitzgerald aside before Clare training and pushed the nuclear button. Wanderlust had gotten hold of the 22-year-old who, just weeks out from their championship opener with Limerick, informed the manager that he was quitting to travel to America.
It turned out to be a two-month break but Galvin didn’t know that at the time, telling Fitzgerald he was leaving for an indefinite period.
“It was tough enough alright to tell the management team more so than making the flight arrangements.” said Galvin. “Yeah, it was tough for about two hours but after that Davy . . . look, to be fair to him, I can’t say a bad word, he took it fairly well. He was very good about it, he didn’t have any negativity towards me, he was very positive.
“He said, ‘look, if you want to come back in, there will be no problem’ and that was a brilliant thing for him to have said. It made me go away with ease and it didn’t make me feel that I didn’t want to come back afterwards. So that’s probably more of a reason why I came back as well after I went away.”
A key member of Clare’s remarkable under-21 odyssey between 2012 and ’14, Galvin emerged as a senior stalwart and was part of their All-Ireland winning team in 2013.
The emotional attachment to that group of players was strong and he winced last summer as he watched Clare lose by a point to Limerick, resolving to cut short his trip and return home.
Chaotic seasonDarach Honan
Fitzgerald ripped up the script over winter, restructuring his management team and including, among others, Cork legend Donal Óg Cusack, a rival goalkeeper he’d clashed with in the past. Whether it was an act of desperation or inspiration from an enigmatic manager was debatable.
“I suppose in the first season that Davy took over, we were sort of going ‘this lad is mad’.” smiled Galvin. “But then in the last year or two . . . you know, you guys only see the side of Davy when he’s at the side of the field on match days whereas Davy off the field is a very different character. Very calm, very mellow, very easy to talk to.
“You see him when he’s animated too, it’s pure and utter passion. I’d say he has the biggest passion for the game that I’ve come across and he brings that out in the players. Even after five years or whatever, you wouldn’t get sick of listening to him because he brings such passion to the table.
“Bringing in Donal Óg and Paul (Kinnerk) coming back in was a great idea by him.”
You certainly can’t argue with the results. When Galvin left 12 months ago, Clare had just been relegated after losing a playoff to Kilkenny. Now they’re preparing for an league final having beaten Kilkenny to get there.
Galvin predicts that when it comes to the championship, Kilkenny “will be right up there again. If they don’t see September, I’ll be surprised”. For now though, it’s all about Clare and their apparent rebirth three years on from taking the 2013 championship by storm.
“You might think we are all confined to a few positions but we are not, we are let play the way we want to play, nearly sort of a freestyle,” he said. “We still know our roles, we still know our jobs and we still have to hit the targets as regards tackling and stuff like that.”
The question is not why it’s all coming together right now for a talented team that still has youth on its side but why things dipped across 2014 and 2015?
“I suppose it nearly came down to not putting in the same work rate that we had been doing,” said Galvin. “We were still putting in the same training, don’t get me wrong. But things weren’t going our way and Clare people were getting on our backs a bit. And I could understand why they were because they were expecting us to be contenders for 2014 and 2015 and that was very frustrating for us as players and for the management.”