Goal ace Galvin a jack of all trades

By Shaun Casey

AS one door closes another opens but when it comes to Tomas Galvin’s sporting career, when one competition comes to a close, another begins. We’re only five months into 2024, and already the young Keady man has lined out for five different teams this year.

Predominantly, his soccer journey with Dungannon Swifts has to come first and foremost. Playing the ground ball game has been his main priority since making his senior debut at the start of the season.

2023 proved to be a year to remember for Galvin as he earned senior debuts with the Irish League outfit, the Armagh county hurlers and his own club Keady in both codes of hurling and football.

With the soccer season having finished up recently, Galvin got to throw his lot in with Karl McKeegan’s Armagh at the back end of the Nickey Rackard Cup campaign and he rattled off 2-7, all from play, last weekend as they smashed Monaghan by ten points.

Just 19 hours before that, Galvin played for the Keady footballers as they lost a round seven league clash to Shane O’Neill’s, and they currently hover just above the relegation zone in the Division 2A table with six points.

Not only that, but Galvin was also involved with the Armagh U20 footballers for a brief stint earlier in the year and made a cameo appearance during the McKenna Cup when Barry O’Hagan’s youngsters travelled to Donegal for the opening round.

It’s been a crazy few months for the 19-year-old, who starred for the Swifts as they finished the season on a high, scoring four goals for Rodney McAree’s side as they won their final five games to finish eighth in the table.

But after completing his first full season, things will start to ramp up now and he’ll have to focus all his attention on soccer. That could mean leaving behind his love of Gaelic games, but that’s the way it has to be.

“After the soccer season I slowed down for a few weeks. I took what is really my summer season off and then once it hit championship, I was straight into the hurling championship, so it’s been all good since then,” said the two-time College Hurling All-Star.

“I was there for a wee bit with the U20s (footballers) at the start of the year and then the county hurling as well. It’s a few teams, but I love it at the end of the day, and it’ll probably be my last season doing that anyway, I’ll likely just have to give the soccer a full go now.

“It’s getting to that stage now where I’ll have to put the head down. Priorities are priorities at the end of the day, and that’s just something that’ll have to happen.

“Once your full time with them you have to give them your full commitment, there’s no real half-assing it to them. You could get injured playing for someone else and you’re still under contract there, so this will probably be me for a while anyway.”

His routine has been fairly stacked up to this point. Games, training, rehab and recovery, then on to the next one. And while GAA clubs are beginning to peak for club championship campaigns that aren’t far away, Galvin will be heading back to pre-season fairly soon.

Galvin hit 4-9 in the championship last season as Keady made it all the way to the Intermediate football semi-finals, where they lost to an Andrew Murnin-inspired St Paul’s, and he also helped Simon McGeary’s men win the Division 2B league.

He rattled off two goals for the Keady hurlers as they saw off Derrynoose in the Senior Championship semi-final and claimed 0-1 in the decider as the Lamh Dhearg club lost out to their old foes, and the dominant force in Armagh hurling, Middletown.

Scoring comes naturally to him. There are some dual players that play in different positions. Derry’s Brendan Rogers is the obvious example, as he plays in defence for the footballers but is the main scoring threat with a hurl in his hand.

No matter what sport Galvin lines out in, it’s up front where he feels the most comfortable.

“I’m a striker in soccer and I probably have an eye for goal, really,” he explained. “I’ve never played anywhere else in any of the sports so it’s all I know really.

“I got a nice wee run at the end of the season with Dungannon, which puts myself in a good position going into pre-season. That’s probably why I need to really put the head down now and work hard at that. The GAA might come after it then, who knows.”

When soccer pre-season starts, the club stuff will have to take a back seat. “It’s tough, I was there last Friday night playing club football, and then I’m playing county hurling next day,” Galvin continued.

“I’ve got club hurling then the following Tuesday night. It doesn’t really stop, but I do it for the love of it really, so I don’t mind being involved in so many teams. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll see any of the club championship.

“I don’t know how pre-season will go. If I’m making it for the first team, then I’ll probably not be playing club. You have to give your full commitment, so that’s probably how it will fall.

“At the end of the day you’re under a contract, and if your training fall on the same nights as your club or your county training, you have to go with what you’re paid to do, which is the soccer.”

His club performances last season saw him receive a phone call from Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, but Galvin wasn’t in a position to make the step up to the intercounty scene given his soccer commitments.

He wouldn’t have been the first to be lured away from soccer by McGeeney. Oisin Conaty, one of Armagh’s star performers so far throughout this season, was involved with Portadown FC before giving his all to the county setup.

But maybe in time, it’s an opportunity Galvin could jump at. Now though, he’s focused on helping Keady footballers and hurlers reach their full potential, for as long as he can, and the footballers have a number of good youngsters coming through their ranks.

Shea Harvey, James O’Hara, Oran McCooey and Ciaran Donnelly have all been a part of Armagh U17 and U20 panels in recent years, while Galvin can add that extra wee bit of punch when required.

“There’s a good crop there and at the minute we’re struggling with injuries big time. Some of us had to play on Friday night when we weren’t meant to play, and then we were playing hurling on Saturday having played football the night before.”

It’s a hectic lifestyle, but Galvin wouldn’t trade it for anything. While many 19-year-olds look forward to getting out at the weekend, discovering the world, Galvin is concentrating on his sport (or sports, depending on the weekend).

“I finished with the soccer two Saturdays ago, and we played Roscommon for the hurlers on the Sunday, so I was straight back into action,” Galvin added.

“I haven’t really had a rest now in about two years, so I might take a wee break now for a few weeks. I don’t really have much of a social life, but sure you wouldn’t want it any other way.”

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