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Fitzmaurice on Galvin return: 'If it works it's fantastic, if it doesn’t work, what’s the big deal?'

Kerry boss speaks out the return of the talismanic footballer.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice is going to be back working with Paul Galvin.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice is going to be back working with Paul Galvin.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

PAUL GALVIN’S KERRY career looked to be over but a new chapter commenced during the week with his shock return to the Kingdom setup.

It was announced on Tuesday night that the four-time All-Ireland winner was back in training with the squad that lifted the Sam Maguire last September.

But how did the 35 year-old’s return come about? Why the change of heart on his part? Where is he going to fit in to the Kerry squad and how did his teammates take the news?

Plenty questions and plenty for Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice to answer when speaking yesterday evening for the first time about Galvin’s comeback.

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How long has the return of Galvin been in the offing?

“Myself and Paul just had a general chat and it came up, Paul said it first obviously. He felt that if circumstances were right, he might be in a position to have a go at it. The more we discussed it we felt it was a good idea.

“Depending on certain conditions, that his body was in good shape, which it is, Depending that he could live in Kerry basically for the duration of the season which he is going to do. He’s able to work remotely now which means that he is not tied to Dublin the way he was twelve months ago.

“When both of those started to come together, he went away for period to get his body into shape and to get fit basically. So he’s worked hard for the last eight or so weeks. I discussed it with the management when we came back from South Africa (team holiday) and we all felt that it was a runner, that it would strengthen the squad.

“So we decided to go for it. It’s one of these things that if it works that’s great, but if it doesn’t work out and if Paul doesn’t get back to the levels that he expects to get to, there’s nothing lost either.”

Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Paul Galvin Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Paul Galvin before the 2013 Munster semi-final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In his book, he had intimated that he was happy with his decision to retire. Where do you think the change of heart came from?

“I think that football wise he always felt that there was probably a bit of unfinished business there. His circumstances and his life thirteen months ago meant that it wasn’t feasible to maintain playing. I think football wise there was still an itch to scratch but just in terms of his life balance it just wasn’t working out.

“As the year went on then, he probably found it tough over the summer, looking in from the outside. When the season finished up then he probably had a good think about it and he felt that he still had a bit to offer.”

When you approached the rest of the management team, was there a sharp intake of breath?

“No, the lads were surprised of course, like everyone else’s initial reaction is one of surprise. Usually when a fella retires at that age, that’s it.

“Like with all big decisions we make, we discussed it, we tossed it around the pros and cons. We went away and thought about it individually and came back again and we were unanimous that from our point of view and from the squad’s point of view, there’s nothing to be lost really.

“From Paul’s perspective maybe there is a bit of a risk. I think regardless of how this goes, his legacy is secure, people know the service he’s given to Kerry.  If it works it’s fantastic, if it doesn’t work, what’s the big deal? I feel it’s a win win situation.”

Diarmuid Murphy, Mikey Sheehy, Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Cian O'Neill Éamonn Fitzmaurice with the Kerry management of Diarmuid Murphy, Mikey Sheehy and Cian O'Neill. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Did the players find out when we found out or did you discuss it with them in advance?

“No, we didn’t discuss it with any of the players. We discussed it as a management. There are times I hop stuff off players but I think for the most part the players’ job is to play and manager’s job is to manage. In this case it was a management decision.”

Is he prepared to wait his turn and how have some of the panel taken his return?

“Paul is coming into it with this eyes wide open. He knows where he is, he’s a member of a squad. He has to fight to get into the twenty six, he has to fight to get some game time, he has a fight on his back to get a starting jersey.

“The players know that it’s just increasing the competition. I know these players well, it will only harden their resolve that they are not going to be the player to lose out. I don’t see that being an issue.”

The Kerry team before the game The Kerry team before their recent league game against Mayo. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Are you hoping that he may bring leadership qualities to the dressing room?

“Of course he’ll bring leadership. He’s good with younger players, he’ll give them plenty of advice. He’s full of energy, he’s very fresh, it’s a different angle for us again. If we go at it the exact same way as we did it last year, we’ll come up short, it’s as simple as that.

When will Paul wear the Kerry jersey again, before the end of the league?

“It will depend on a lot of things, it will depend on Paul’s own form and how the league is going. It will depend on results. There are a lot of things that come into that equation, that’s one of things that we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Paul Galvin leaves the field after being replaced Paul Galvin's last appearance for Kerry was against Dublin in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Would you be advising him to play with his club (Finuge) on Sunday in the North Kerry League?

“Absolutely, he will be playing club games. They will help him get up to a level of sharpness, handling ball. He’ll be working hard obviously inside in training and obviously every little bit will help.”

Where is Paul likely to play since Kerry appears to have a plentiful supply of forwards? Could he play at the back?

“We’re open minded about it, we’ll see how it works out. He’s behind everyone else because he’s coming back at this stage, he has lost ground to make up so on a given day he could play in the backs, on a given day he could play in the forwards.”

We’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get our first glimpse of Paul Galvin back in a Kerry Jersey

Why is the Munster senior colleges football final clashing with Cork-Kerry next Sunday?

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