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Evan’s Burning ambition to Galvin-ise Cobh Ramblers towards top flight of Irish football

Cobh Ramblers midfielder, Evan Galvin, lit up Tolka Park on the opening night of the season, scoring the decisive goal in the 1-0 victory over Shelbourne on Friday night.  Here, in an interview with Brian Strahan, the former Waterford United player looks back on his time with Burnley, what he learnt from his time in England and how the hunger to prove his worth, is as aching as ever.

Brian Strahan:  How did you find your time at Burnley?

Evan Galvin:  Very much up and down, which is what I expected.  It was never going to be plain sailing. It was a very enjoyable experience but It was an eye opener more so, especially for the first twelve months.  The difference was I played at home with lads who I grew up with and it’s a different story in England.  I’m walking into a dressing room with lads I don’t know, from completely different places and they’re not your friends, it’s very much everyone for themselves.

Clubs expect the youth-team lads or Under-21’s to be good friends, to trust each other.  How am I meant to just become best friends with a lad I don’t know, from a random country, because I’m sharing a dressing room with them? And being in an {Under} 21’s dressing room we all had the same goal, to get to the first team.

BS:  What about the games themselves?

EG:  You weren’t worried about the midweek fixture you lost once you played well individually. That is all that matters when you’re trying to make it in the game at a young age; getting yourself to where you want to be.  This isn’t to say I sat in a corner speaking to nobody, you have banter and speak to people of course but my main concern was very much myself and my own development.

To get the opportunity to sign for a club cross-channel and go and train everyday was brilliant, also in terms of the knowledge I gained through strength and conditioning, sports psychology and other sports science aspects was a good help to me.  It was an enjoyable experience, but an eye opener to the football world as well and I am more ambitious than ever to go abroad again and make a mark outside of the League Of Ireland, all in good time though.

BS:  What strikes me first up is the individual performance thing. I can understand it, but the lack of a collective effort or spirit must leave a pretty flat feeling?

EG:  I wouldn’t even say it’s a flat feeling. Players will still want to win when you’re playing the game itself, so that spirit is there; but to an extent.  It would of always been in my head that ” ok we lost here but I did very well ” .  That changes at first team level as it’s more about the three points. It certainly was for me, now everything I’m doing midweek, is geared to winning the game on a Friday or Saturday.  Before it was more; keep playing well and you have a chance of another contract.

BS:  So even though you’d like another stab abroad, is there a more fulfilling feeling from playing for Cobh?

EG:  It’s more fulfilling, yes and in terms of the lads and the banter side of it it’s more enjoyable.  I’m back playing with lads from Cork mainly and around Ireland, so it’s more familiar. There is a few lads I know since playing schoolboy football so it’s a nice change. But my ambition, as I said, is to go abroad again; next time I’ll be more prepared for it. I won’t be finding my feet for a year. I’ll go wherever I go and I’ll be ready for it.

BS:  Do you think players are better off establishing themselves in the league of Ireland first, as anecdotally there is an argument to be made that it grounds and prepares a player better?

EG:  Not necessarily, no.  I think it depends on the player and the maturity levels.

Sometimes, players come back from England after falling out of love with the game.

Some are embarrassed they’ve been released because they base their whole identity on being a footballer.  Some go away and make a great career. It’s a tough question to answer.

I can see your point that the LOI grounds the player; that’s true because I seen lads at 17,18 think they’d made it.  A lot of lads get carried away with the few bob they’re getting and the social aspect of being known as a ‘ footballer ‘ and then they try live up to it. Then they get released and their world comes crashing down.

The league of Ireland players don’t have the same luxury that the young lads in the UK have but your full-time and you have a lot of resources available at your disposal every day in England.  There’s an argument to both. The league of Ireland is fantastic for us getting a start in the game at first team level

BS:  Is too much expectation put on young players going abroad. Is it the unmeasured presumption that success will follow that makes players who return home, feel like failures in some cases?

EG:  It depends on who the expectation is coming from.  If it’s coming from the support network, as in the family,close circle around the player and the player is at a young age, then yes I can see it as being a hindrance and not a help at all. The player will constantly try and live up to others unrealistic expectations and play for approval of others and the end result is usually falling out of love with it.  The player in this instance has to remind themselves as to why their playing the game in the first place.  If you’re playing for you first and foremost, then dealing with expectation, no matter where it comes from, will make it a lot easier.

BS:  And other pressures?

EG:  There will always be an expectation  from the club that you must continuously improve and perform up to your ability, but that’s more about perception.  It is something you learn to deal with.  If you perceive that expectation as something you ” must do ” and go onto the pitch with the mindset of ” I must play well ” then it’s not going to help. If you change that to ” I want to play well ” then it’s a different story.

I think the presumption of success comes from not being realistic; Why feel like a failure when the stats are there for everyone to see. 96% released at 18. 98% released at 21. Based on those stats why presume success in the first place? That’s not to say you can’t achieve that success however you may have to explore other options if option A doesn’t work.  The second reason a player feels like a failure is based on Identity and how the player sees himself.  If you see yourself as for example as ” Evan Galvin – The Footballer ” and base your whole identity around that then the minute that tag gets taken away you won’t deal with it well. If you see yourself as a brother, friend, son, nephew or whatever then it makes returning home easier. Players talk about being in a bubble – stepping out of the bubble and having a life where you do normal things with friends and have hobbies will actually aid your football. Balance is the key.

BS:  Did you feel you failed when you returned  home initially?

EG:  No. I’m very much a realist and I was never going to lie to myself that I was getting a contract when I knew I was getting released. I knew early on I was probably getting let go and I pressed Burnley for a decision. I got the go ahead to trial elsewhere earlier than everyone else and I chose to go and train at League of Ireland clubs. I was wasting my time in Under-21’s football, it’s a holding pen for players.  I was never going to stay there to look good to others which is what a lot of players do.  I needed first team games. Your CV might aswell be blank without 1st team games.

I felt like a different animal coming home. I went to England at sixteen, still only a boy and my personality was still forming. I came home at nineteen and I knew myself better and I knew the game better, I knew more about what was required psychologically to get to a higher level ”

I’m yet to meet someone who puts in more work than me, that gives me a lot of confidence. Ive actually stepped up a level coming home. Im playing first team football, coming home was no big deal. It was an easy decision to make.

BS:  And you couldn’t have asked for a better start than Friday’s win over Shelbourne?

EG:  That was a great start and it could have been more. We missed a penalty, I hit the post and we missed two other chances that we should of scored.  Could of been four or five in the end. I was delighted to score on my league debut with Cobh and get the winner against Shels. Don’t think their fans were too happy with me.  We beat Limerick 1-0 in the Munster Senior Cup as well and both sides were the favourites for the league and promotion so we’re playing well.

We play Drogheda at home on Saturday that will be another good test for us. We have great staff and a solid group of players, so we just need to keep focusing on training and getting better.


Written by: Brian Strahan

Pic: Twitter @evangalvin

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