Can Paul Galvin Be the Right Man for Plunkett’s/ER?

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Before going any further, let’s make it perfectly clear that I would agree with what I assume most of the country would in that Paul Galvin was one of the top footballers in Ireland between 2004 and 2015, at club level, probably still has plenty to give.

Not alone that, in any other club team in Dublin, even at 37 years old, he’d be an immense asset without any genius management tinkering. Stick him wing forward for Ballyboden, Vincent’s or Ballymun, and he’d be the perfect complementing player for the other pacey forwards.

Put him with Jude’s or Croke’s and you could put him straight in at centre forward where he’d play a similar role to Judes’ Ross O’Brien or Crokes’ Brian Cavanagh who wore the number 11 shirts respectively last year, only he’d do it better because he’s still probably as fast as either of those, but he’s Paul Galvin.

The quirky nature of things, however, is that in Plunkett’s/ER he may well have landed in the one club team in Dublin, and maybe Ireland, where the dynamics of what’s there already, might not make him so much of an asset.

The thing of it is, that Plukett’s/ER already have probably the best forward line in club football in the country, and one of them comes with a similar stamp to Galvin.

It seems unfathomable as he has been the engine room there for years, and still has the ability to be, that Alan Brogan wouldn’t be in the half forward line. Galvin hardly fits onto that line. With Brogan in the centre, or even on the wing, could you really fathom a 35 and 37 year old in one half forward line? Personally, I’d consider that to be tactical suicide.

plunletts 11 alan brogan

Brogan can still control things from centre forward

So stick him in the full forward line? Well you’ve already got Bernard Brogan and Tomás Corrigan in there, two of the best full/corner forwards in the country. If Curran goes with a five man forward line, as most do these days, where does Galvin go?

Apparently Corrigan won’t tog this Thursday with an hamstring injury, but should they reach the quarters, this conundrum will raise its head.

Even if Curran does go with a six man forward line with Corrigan available, or if we’re dealing with a two man full forward line against Ballyboden, is Galvin a better option than Gareth “Nesty” Smyth?

All round, Galvin is undoubtedly a better player, but Smyth’s ability to go one way, then turn the other way and kick a point before even hopping the ball is golden in an age where time is of the essence in the full forward line before opposition half back lines, midfields, and half forward lines get behind the ball.

As it is, I’m not sure how Plunkett’s/Er would have correctly fitted these three into the same side last year.

plunketts 6 nesty smyth

Nesty has been a key player

Irrespective, as I’ve written in my preview article, if Plunkett’s/Er go with a standard six up front, they’ll end up defending man on man too much and I’d expect them to be massacred by an all-round more pacey Ballyboden (as well as Vincent’s or Ballymun), so assuming Bernard Brogan and Corrigan to play up front, I don’t see that as an option that would have a positive outcome with a full hand.

What about the centre back role that Kerry were apparently entertaining a couple of years ago? Again, with any side except Vincent’s who already have Ger Brennan, I’d say “fair enough, sounds good”. Stick the older, slower  fox at centre back and pick two pacey wing backs.

paul galvin 2

A legendary rivalry

The problem for Plunkett’s/Er is that they’ve already had two players like this in Ciarán McKeever and James Brogan. Both are superb ball carriers/game controllers from the back, but neither is what I’d consider a defender in the truest sense of the word.

Personally, I already think that they were to Plunkett’s what Yaya Touré, Sergio Aguero and David Silva were to Manchester City. Three world class players, but you couldn’t have the three in the same team, at least not in a 4-4-2, which is why City were trampled on in Europe in the past.

Having not seen the game, I’d speculate that the two of them in the same defence was like putty in the hands of Castleknock’s pacey, busy bee like forward line last year. As it is, unless Plunkett’s/Er were going to apply a double sitting libero sitting, I’d be of the opinion that the two couldn’t be in the same team.

pluketts 14 ross mcconnell

Ross McConnell

With McKeever gone, now the equation where I feel one of two top players would have to have been left out, you re-create the same problem by bringing in Galvin. Bring him into the equation, and now you’re trying to fit two top class players into one position. And Plunkett’s already have a number of highly competent, but not pacey players in defence. Forget about it. Unless they’re going to apply a double libero system.

So if Curran is going to go with a an old school 3-3-2-3-3 as he did with Ballymun, it’s difficult to imagine where Galvin fits in, as a starter at least.

In such a format, personally, I’d plan for a split shift with Ross McConnell at midfield so you could still get a 90 percent version of each at their prime for the full sixty plus minutes. Of course, that would require a set piece strategy for Galvin’s shift at midfield or it could be a disaster for Plunkettt’s/Er under the high ball. Alternatively, a 40/60 shift with Alan Brogan could be an option.

No, I see no way that Paul Galvin as a starting forward is going to be an asset for Plunkett’s if they have a full, or close to full panel. At least not as an old school forward!

I don’t know Curran’s form enough to say, but he was up there with the smartest players I’ve seen, so the chances are he’s up there with the smartest managers. My suspicion is that his go-go-go style with Ballymun was a tactic to get the best out of what he had and that he won’t try that style with a less pacey Plunkett’s/ER side.

No, my suspicion is that he’ll play the cards he has. And if I was dealt the Plunkett’s/Er deck, I’d be going with four/five up front and seven/eight at the back as Pat McDonagh and Paul Clarke did from 2014 to 2016.

If I was doing that, I’d give Galvin the number 13 or 14 jersey and tell him to go roaming. That would allow him to play the game on his terms, at his pace, bringing all of his assets to the table.

Not alone that, he could play another key role he has played for Kerry. When Darragh Ó’Sé was in his twilight years and Mícheal Quirke was more or less being carried to win kick-outs and one of them would drop into the half back line when the opposition had the ball, Galvin played a key role.

He was one of two men who played the angles as the play developed and dropped into a more central position to allow Ó’Sé/Quirke to drop into the defence, save their legs and set up a zonal defence. If Galvin were to do this for Plunkett’s he could, in fact be the key piece in Plunkett’s jigsaw.

Give him that role, to play the angles when the opposition build from the back and he could play the lines correctly to allow Plunkett’s/Er to get men behind the ball, something I’m certain they’ll need to do to beat Ballyboden.

Of course, in the long run, that would mean leaving out one of Corrigan, Bernard Brogan or Smyth, something that might seem unfathomable on the Navan Road. Remember though, this is the man who left Philly McMahon out of Ballymun’s starting fifteen for the 2014 quarter final! If Curran thinks it’s the right thing to do, no better man to do it.

Play Galvin the right way and he could be that very piece to bring everything else together, “the skewer in the shish kebab” as Brian Clough’s partner, Peter Taylor, would have said. Try to fit him in just to fit him in and he could further compound an already potentially uphill battle of an aging team.

By Stephen O’Meara