Galvin going the extra mile for Kerry cause
By Paul Keane
If you're in the market for a podcast recommendation, or wondering what's the best motorway service station on the Dublin to Kerry route, chances are Anna Galvin can set you right.
The Kerry captain lives and works as an occupational therapist in Dublin, five hours from her home in south Kerry, and not a whole pile less from training in the Kingdom.
For many, that would make playing inter-county football simply impossible but for the guts of a decade now Galvin has been making it happen.
Days like this Sunday, a Lidl National League Division 2 final at Croke Park against Armagh and an opportunity to return to the top flight for the first time since 2018, make it all worthwhile. But it's still tough going.
That's where the good podcasts come in, to kill the time and quieten the mind.
"You get used to it, you actually kind of earmark those travel periods during the week as times to think about certain things, to kind of reflect and things like podcasts are saving me, thank God," said Galvin.
"The body, sometimes when I'm getting out of the car in Dublin, I'd crawl out of the car! But it's grand, I've access to physio and rehab and there's good recovery suites and the like up in Dublin. That's the one thing, the facilities up here are good, that when I want to go and access them they're there."
Many in Galvin's situation would just knock inter-county football on the head. Plenty have. It's why, Galvin reckons, Kerry fare well in underage competitions but can suffer from the minor grade onwards as life, work and college commitments often take players away from the county.
"At U-14 and U-16 county level, Kerry were excellent when I was growing up, we were really, really strong and then at minor it just drops off," said Galvin, from the Southern Gaels club.
"At U-20 there was a competition for a while, we were never able to compete. We're just not the same. The thing is, we're so remote in Kerry, you have to more or less go away to college.
"There's obviously the university in Tralee and lots do go there and to UCC and UL and it's manageable but tonnes go to Dublin, tonnes go to Galway and you just lose players. Even for club girls going away to Cork and Limerick, they're not going to come back for training.
"It's so hard, we struggle to get girls back home to have a meaningful club championship, it's so hard to field teams.
"In the senior championship a couple of years ago, we had eight teams going into it, or maybe nine actually. Then I think three teams folded within the championship, so people had walkovers and stuff, within our county championship. That's a disaster.
"It's tough in that sense because we really need our championship to be strong to be able to really build on things. There's 100% class and potential coming up through the younger ages and then we just are missing a little piece there in terms of retaining girls once they head away to college."
Finally securing Division 1 status in the Lidl National League, following Division 2 final defeats in 2019 and 2021, either side of the cancelled 2020 campaign, could help with player retention.
Kerry will play Armagh on Sunday and Galvin is confident that her side won't suffer from any inferiority complex. She explained that Kerry were boosted by the sight of Meath, who beat Kerry in last year's Division 2 final, going on to win the All-Ireland with wins over Cork and Dublin along the way.
"I think Meath winning last year has given everyone a little bit of encouragement," she said. "There can be the perception that Dublin and Cork are, you know, sometimes it's been said in the past, or we've said it in the past about ourselves, that we see Dublin and Cork and we automatically are defeated in our own minds but I think we're really putting that to bed now.
"We've worked a lot in the last couple of years on putting that to bed, over the last two or three years with all the new girls coming in, just making sure that they don't have that sense and then when Meath go ahead and do what they did, it definitely sets a good precedent."
Attacker Galvin feels a win, and the guarantee of top flight football next year, is vital.
"I've said it I don't know how many times over the last few years - we need to get out of Division 2," said Galvin. "It's hard to compete in the senior championship otherwise. I know Meath literally did it last year but typically it's hard to compete in the senior championship when you're playing Division 2 teams."