Sunday 17 December 2017

Kerry star Paul Galvin in for battle with shock Kingdom return

Spillane predicts returning star faces huge fight for place

Paul Galvin Ex Kerry Footballer playing football in the Caherslee GAA pitch in Tralee
Paul Galvin Ex Kerry Footballer playing football in the Caherslee GAA pitch in Tralee

KERRY icon Pat Spillane has responded to last night's bombshell comeback of another green-and-gold legend by predicting a "ferocious battle" ahead for Paul Galvin.

Not for the first time in his now-resumed inter-county career, the 35-year-old has caught the nation off-guard by rejoining Eamonn Fitzmaurice's senior panel.

Galvin's U-turn comes 13 months after his original decision to call time on a career that had delivered four All-Ireland SFC medals and three All Stars.

In the interim, Kerry reclaimed Sam Maguire last September but now Fitzmaurice has handed an opportunity to his brother-in-law, and fellow Finuge man.

Yet Kerry’s success in his absence - coupled with the return of Tommy Walsh from Australia and the hugely-anticipated fightback to full fitness of Colm Cooper - means that Galvin now faces a massive challenge to get back into the starting mix.

“Shocked and surprised,” admitted RTÉ pundit Spillane, when contacted about last night’s breaking news.

“He has a ferocious battle ahead, because I have never seen a Kerry team for many years with so much competition for places.”

This is especially the case up front, where Galvin made his name as the archetypal workaholic wing-forward, who mixed his trademark feistiness with an often underrated ball-playing acumen.

Yet, as Spillane pointed out, the Kerry forward line that overcame Dublin in a fiercely contested Allianz Football League clash last Sunday did not include Cooper, reigning Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue, Donnchadh Walsh or Darran O’Sullivan. 

All four will be battling for inclusion come championship.  Now they’ll be joined by Galvin, seeking elevation in an overcrowded forward division - unless, that is, there are plans to reprise last year’s brief early-season experiment with Galvin in the half-back line.

This was followed by the dramatic announcement of his retirement on the very night that Kerry opened their 2014 NFL campaign with a Croke Park defeat to Dublin.

“I am proud to say I won All-Irelands for Kerry and I am satisfied that I gave the cause everything I had in me,” he said in a statement confirming his exit.

Now, it would appear, he has something more to offer that cause after Fitzmaurice confirmed in a one-line statement that Galvin had rejoined the squad and “resumed training” yesterday evening.

“There is ferocious competition,” Spillane reiterated.  “That is why they are going well in the league - because the complacency is gone.  The guaranteed starts for the guys with All-Ireland medals are over; the new kids on the block all have their own medals.

“It will be interesting.  You never know - Paul is Paul.  I hope he succeeds but he has a mountain ahead,” the eight-time All-Ireland winner concluded.

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