Paul Galvin has said that watching Kerry get “roughed up” during the early part of the century aided his own approach to inter-county football.
Galvin broke onto the Kerry senior panel in 2004 which finished with the Finuge forward winning a first All-Ireland title and a maiden All-Star award.
He would ultimately finish his career with four All-Irelands and three All-Star awards as well as winning a Footballer of the Year gong in 2009.
Galvin’s introduction to the senior setup coincided with a shift in mentality for the Kerry Gaelic footballers. The Kingdom fell to eventual All-Ireland winners, Meath, Armagh and Tyrone between 2001-03 and were noticeably weaker than their opponents when it came to the physical aspect of the game.
Galvin explained that those three seasons before he broke onto the team led him to adopt the aggressive approach he took to inter-county Gaelic football, claiming that he was “disgusted” with how Kerry were getting “roughed up” and that he planned to “match fire with fire”.
“They were the three years prior to my career starting with Kerry,” Galvin recalled whilst in conversation with Tomas O’Se as past of his Comhra Le Tomas podcast.
“I watched them closely and it was highly physical, highly aggressive, rules were being bent and broken and particularly the Tyrone ’03 semi-final, I was right on the sideline looking at a lot of the activity,” said Galvin.
“It was so intense and aggressive, I just said, ‘All bets are off here if you get in’. That was my approach always.
“I was just disgusted looking at Kerry getting roughed up and beaten and 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 the [middle-third] conflict.”
While Galvin has since gone on to forge a successful career for himself in the fashion industry, he admitted that for the majority of his career, he obsessed over football to the point that it spilt over into his former career as a teacher.
It was at this point that he recalled Jack O’Connor trying to persuade him to take up golf as he needed a new hobby.
“He felt I needed a hobby,” said Galvin.
“This was early in my career. I was obsessed. I did need a hobby because I was completely obsessed with football. I mean I was in class and I’d often have the football out around the classroom.
“Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’d start my warm-up in the last class, I’d be doing my stretches and honestly now, it was some scene when I think back, students…I’d give an exercise to do and then I’d start to do my stretches for training.
“I wouldn’t even waste time at training doing my stretches, I’d have it done so when I got there I’d be ready to go. I’d have a good bit of (ball) handling done in the daytime. Morning, noon and night I was obsessed with what we were doing, what we were trying to do. I did burn myself out eventually, I took it way too seriously.”
While Galvin is renowned for a style of play that set him apart from his Kerry teammates and ultimately proved vital to their success of the noughties, his infamous clashes with Noel O’Leary of Cork on a yearly basis became the stuff of legend.
The former Gaelic Footballer of the Year admitted that after a few years, he realised that wrestling with O’Leary was a mug’s game.
“He was a funny one in that he was very strong physically,” said Galvin.
“I’d very powerful arms, I worked a lot on them and he was the first guy I met where me wrestling with him under a break was never going to…I did it for a couple of years and then I said, ‘No, this is a mug’s game’. Because he was that strong in his arms.”