Dancing around the big lads since primary school 5 months ago

Dancing around the big lads since primary school

Eddie Horgan could barely believe his eyes.

Break-time in Clonlara National school and the principal is on yard duty. It's usually the Yard Soccer that catches the eye.

For those who aren't familiar, Yard Soccer is a competitively contested pastime that eats up break and lunches in primary schools all over the country. Its rules and objectives are the exact same as soccer's, the only difference being that a tennis ball is used instead of a football. Just to make it that bit more testing.

A lazy leg flattens a tennis ball and only the skilled and light-footed dancers will flourish.

Colm Galvin was only in second class. It's not the done thing for a seven year-old to be in with the tens and elevens and so it's no wonder that he looked a bit out of place.

Not in the way you'd imagine though. The smallest lad in the court kept on dancing around the big lads.

"I noticed his footwork straight away," says Horgan, the former Clonlara Primary School Principal.

"Colm was just so effortless. His movement was so natural and his balance was like something I hadn't seen out in the yard before. He was gliding around with the ball, able to sell dummies, and he was just so elusive. He was putting the older lads, the sixth class lads to shame and there was never a young lad who came up and was able to do that - not at his age, four years younger than them..."

"It was a very big school and I actually hadn't come across Colm before that..."

The headmaster said to himself he'd keep tabs on this fella. He'd have to keep the eyes peeled.

Fleet-footedness runs in the Galvin genes. Colm's father Kevin hurled with Clare in the late 80s and was renowned for his pace and balance. Ian will tell you his older brother isn't even the fastest Galvin in the house.

There's an unassuming nature about Colm too. Horgan nods that confidence would never be an issue with a Galvin but as a youngster he was always happy to go about his high-carat business quietly.

It's fairly hard to believe but there's barely a peep out of this gem still.

Tony Kelly, Podge Collins and Shane O'Donnell. When you think about the household names in Clare hurling, those are the lads that spring to mind. When you think about the most consistent of the graceful Clare hurlers though, it is impossible to ignore Colm Galvin.

A player who reads the game to the very last index, Galvin has a natural grace and eloquence that could run a meditation class. His vision is 20:20 and you could write songs about his wrists.

For the last few years, he's been Clare's orchestrator. That deep-lying midfielder who brings every other player in a saffron and blue jersey to life.

That could be the reason he's a tad unheralded but recalling the magic midfielder as an easy going character, Horgan knows his former pupil won't be losing any sleep over it.

"Then moving up through the classes, he just kept progressing on. His movement, his balance, his enthusiasm, bravery and competitive streak - even as a young fella. He had it all.

"Never before Colm Galvin was a 4th class in Clonlara National school good enough to make the senior team but Colm would have been one of the first names on it...I called him aside one day and I told him how proud everyone in Clonlara was of his father having hurled with Clare - it wouldn't have been that common back then for a man from east Clare to make it but I told Colm that he was going to follow in his footsteps. Genuinely, you wouldn't say that to a lad who would get carried away with it, Colm was very relaxed too, I knew it wouldn't get to his head..."

Low and behold, Galvin is an All-Star hurler and Horgan reckons he could have a few more. He can't imagine a Clonlara team without him and feels that if he was given a more advanced role in the Clare team that he'd go to town altogether.

"And sure he's the exact same now. He's so clever on the ball, I suppose he he's a little bit underrated in the sense that he has been one of the most consistent hurlers in the country over the last few years... He mightn't be as glamorous or as flashy as maybe Tony Kelly bursting through the middle and sticking them over, but Colm's points from 60, 70 yards are just as valuable and require just as much skill...

"His reading of the game is as good as anybody in the game. He always seems to be in the right place, he drifts in so effortlessly and brings the ball away with him, he's pure class. I suppose it's like it was back when he was only a young lad in Clonlara school. He sees things differently..."

One thing I would like to see in Clare maybe is Colm in more of an attacking midfield role - because he is such a natural scorer and attacker..."

And Ian isn't far off either.

"And I'll tell you one thing, if the younger brother Ian gets a good run at it he'll be just as good for Clare too, he's lightning as well..."

Must be the Yard Soccer.