Paul Galvin's time in charge of Wexford never got off the ground. The Kerryman took over the county's footballers in August 2019. Three wins and two losses in Division 4 of the Allianz League had shown a team in transition, but that transition would never come to pass as Covid stopped the season dead in its tracks last March. By the time it came back in October, Galvin was gone, citing personal and work reasons for being unable to commit in the uncertain environment that still existed around Covid.
Of course, in any other county, the appointment of Galvin would take the majority of the headlines in GAA circles. But in Wexford, there was already a high profile outside celebrity manager ruling the roost.
Speaking to Paul Rouse on the Irish Examiner's Allianz Football Show, Galvin spoke in fairly shocking terms about the relationship the two managers shared during his brief time on Slaneyside. A dual county in a way very few truly are, Galvin answered "very much so," when asked if football played second fiddle in Wexford?
And with hurling getting the lion's share of attention, that gives a certain power to that code's manager, something Galvin said Davy Fitzgerald used in a big way.
The hurling manager? I had no difficulty dealing with the hurling manager until such time as he just started to interfere a little bit with my operation, I felt.
It worked OK. I was building a new team there. I made a couple of decisions to shake the thing up a little bit. And, you know, we were starting fresh with a young group, and I had to keep my head down because there was a lot of stuff flying around and we needed to get results.
We started to get results and that was enough of an answer for me at the time.
I did feel there was a bit of interference that made my job more difficult and made the situation down there difficult.
I had a very good relationship with the chairman but I think some of the things that went on…
I think Davy wanted the training ground to himself. He wanted Ferns to himself down there. He certainly let it be known pretty early that we weren’t welcome in Ferns, the football side of things. Because some of the things he did made it clear to me that we weren’t welcome in Ferns, basically. That was my take on the situation.
What exactly was happening? Galvin claims Fitzgerald brought in players dropped by him from the football panel to his hurling panel to undermine him, and had particular anger for what he described as Davy making "a big man of himself in the media" by speaking about his support for Galvin, when the reality was he was getting in his way.
I didn’t mind a bit of chicanery. There was a bit of chicanery going on.
I released a few players. He brought them into the hurling squad —same training ground, dressing rooms, pitches, car park, corridor, same training nights.
And I felt that was a bit of a statement. And I took it on the chin because he’s around a long time and Davy’s a wily old fox, he’s gained a little bit of soft power in the media that he uses quite cleverly.
“I took it on the chin because we needed results and I had to keep my head down.
The thing that really annoyed me about that was that he made a big man of himself in the media off the back of it. And he started talking about all the respect he had for me in the media and making a virtuous man of himself on the back of it. The reality was that, behind the scenes, that wasn’t the case at all.
I felt he was trying to maybe put me in the ha’penny place a little bit and put football in the ha’penny place a little bit.”
There was a lot of good Wexford football people down there. I think there's a lot of potential down there, I do. I saw it first hand. I believe there's the makings of a very good young team down in Wexford. I'm absolutely certain of that. There's good football people down there.
But, yeah, that was a bit of an eye opener for me in terms of a learning experience, and the growth out of it, and you move on to your next place, and you probably have a good grounding there overall in terms of experience.
Speaking in Janaury of last year ahead of the start of the National Leagues, Fitzgerald spoke about bringing former football captain Michael Furlong and Kevin O'Grady into his squad after the pair fell out with Galvin.
"I don't think they're doing anything at the moment as far as I know. We'd never cross over football, I have too much respect for Paul and his team. It's just the lads were at nothing, we were down a lot of boys. I'm delighted to have them.
"Mickey and Kevin have come in and they've worked really hard. They're on the panel and it's up to them to see where they go."
You can hear the full Irish Examiner Allianz Football Show, where Rouse, Galvin and Oisin McConville discuss the weekend's football here.