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Paul Galvin: How Noel O’Leary’s mother helped us make peace

paul galvin

I think the words she used were ‘your poor mother,’ as much as to say ‘and poor me here looking at ye two flutes hopping off each other out on the pitch.’

Kerry’s Paul Galvin has spoken about his rivalry with Noel O’Leary and how O’Leary’s mother was a surprise help in the two resolving their issues.

paul galvin noel o'leary

Noel O’Leary.

One of Galvin’s main rivalries was with Cork’s Noel O’Leary.

They had some great battles down the years but Galvin was left frustrated at times when the sideshow became the main event.

Galvin was speaking during an Irish Examiner podcast interview and said: “I understood the thing for a while with Cork and Noel. But, in the end it was like we were the entertainment on the side of the field while the game was going on.

“Being honest, I’d have had more bother if he was going up the field for a score. That’s a hard balance. Watching the breaks from midfield with one eye and your man with the other.”

noel o'leary

Both players made their peace in 2010. On the train down following Cork’s All-Ireland victory over Down, O’Leary’s phone buzzed.

Galvin recalls: “That text came out afterwards. But really it was the previous year’s final, when the Cork and Kerry rivalry was at its peak, that I met Noel’s mother upstairs in the players’ lounge in Croke Park.

“She was a lovely, gracious woman. She congratulated us and began asking me about my own mother. I think the words she used were ‘your poor mother,’ as much as to say ‘and poor me here looking at ye two flutes hopping off each other out on the pitch.’

“There weren’t too many could empathise with my mam at the time.”

paul galvin

Armagh and Tyrone.

Galvin also went into detail about how he sometimes overstepped the mark.

The former Wexford manager was influenced by watching the great Armagh and Tyrone teams.

Galvin said: “Seeing Armagh in 2002 and Tyrone in 2003 showed me there was a certain way you had to play in the middle third and I did that.

“When you are that physical and aggressive, and I was not a big man at 5′ 11 and 12 and a half stone, then contact brings conflict.

“Arm strength in that area of the field was massive.”

paul galvin

Speaking to Tomas O’Se as part of his Comhra Le Tomas podcast last year, The 2009 Footballer of the Year also recalled the physicality of the Northern teams

Galvin stated: “I watched them closely and it was highly physical, highly aggressive. Rules were being bent and broken, particularly the Tyrone ’03 semi-final. I was right on the sideline looking at a lot of the activity.

“It was so intense and aggressive. I just said, ‘All bets are off here if you get in’. That was my approach always.”

The four-time All-Ireland winner was watching on and vowed to make sure that he wouldn’t see a Kerry team “getting roughed up and beaten” by any opposition again.

He continued: “I was just disgusted looking at Kerry getting roughed up and beaten. I said ‘if I ever get in there I’m going to match fire with fire’. I was only matching what I was seeing really.

“Then you try to take it up a level of course and wherever the game goes you’ve got to try to take it a bit further. So my position was part of that conflict.”

paul galvin kerry


Back in September, Paul Galvin stepped down from his role as manager of the Wexford footballers.

He cited time and travel commitments as the reasons behind the unexpected decision.

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