Interview by Andrew Dempsey
Evan Galvin is probably one of the most experienced young attacking players in the First Division at the moment and having joined the club alongside marquee signing Darren Meenan at the tail-end of 2017, Neale Fenn’s new man sat down with LTFC.ie reporter ANDREW DEMPSEY ahead of the crucial opening day clash at home to Cobh Ramblers on Saturday the 24th of February.
Giving reasons for his decision to swap the capital for the midlands, the 22-year-old Corkonian noted that the style of play on offer at the City Calling Stadium was a factor in his move but also admitted that the appointment of Daire Doyle as the new assistant manager played a pivotal role in his eventual decision to join the red and black.
“One reason is after playing them last year and I wasn’t even playing at that stage, so I was just watching the game and Neale had them playing really attractively. Obviously with Daire going there was a big reason as well so as soon as I saw Daire was there I asked could I come in and do a bit of training with them. So, I did and then it kind of went from there and I was delighted to get the deal done then.”
Adapting to the new style of play on offer at his new employers has been ‘comfortable’ so far for the former Burnley youth team player, as Galvin knows that this kind of possession-orientated system suits his style of play ‘right down to the ground’.
“It’s been very comfortable for me to adapt to it. How Neale gets his side to play suits my style of play right down to the ground so trying to adapt to teams that don’t play like that has been the hardest thing for me. It’s been a breath of fresh air for me so far, even last night (Friendly vs Ashbourne United) was a different kind of game for me. I know it was only a friendly, but we were still getting the ball down on the ground, playing out from the back and it’s building from the get-go. It suits me, so it makes it easier for me to play like that. I don’t want to be playing in a team that’s going to lumping it up from the back.”
Commuting from Cork for training and matches is undoubtedly a major obstacle for the former Cobh Ramblers man, but the challenge is a hardly a new one as Evan is well used to the long travel distances having had to experience them for eighteen months at his old club, Cabinteely.
“Yeah I commute from Cork to train yeah. I suppose I’ve been doing it for eighteen months at Cabinteely and to be fair to Pat Devlin he was absolutely brilliant to me last year when I was travelling and commuting, he was fair, he was reasonable and Neale and Daire have been the same so far to me. I get up and train as much as I can but obviously when you’re living in Cork and working some days it can be difficult, but I won’t be moaning. I’m enjoying it so far and when you’re playing football the way Neale wants you to play football it does make it worthwhile!”
Having ended his three-year stint over in England with Burnley after failing to forge his way into the First-Team at Turf Moor, the promising 22-year-old sank his teeth into the humbler surroundings of the League of Ireland and is hoping that he can further his progression with Longford Town, starting with promotion from the First Division at the end of this season.
“I was at Burnley for three years and left school after my Junior Cert. I didn’t quite get into the first-yeam over there like most young lads, so I came home and got stuck into the League of Ireland. You’re always looking for that progression to the next level and hopefully with Longford we can have a good season and get promoted. After that its Premier Division games and that’s kind of what you’re after.”
Looking back on the early challenges he faced on his arrival to League of Ireland football, Neale Fenn’s new attacking dynamo noted that adjusting to the lifestyle of League of Ireland football was probably his biggest challenge having trained like a full-time professional over in England during his early years.
“The biggest challenge was probably the amount of training you have to do. I was playing full-time for three years over in England and it was my job essentially from Monday to Friday then I was playing matches on the Saturday, so I was living, training and playing like a full-time pro. Its different when you get to Ireland and it’s just the League of Ireland. Obviously, it doesn’t have the resources that the clubs in England have and then you’re not playing and training as much due to working and then this year I’m in college as well so I’m balancing that as well now. It was more the balancing act more than anything else, such as less training football wise. Obviously, you can still go to the gym and do extra running but its not the same. The standard was fine, so it was more the lifestyle part of it that you had to adapt to.”
Having plenty of First Division experience under his belt having played for the likes of Waterford United, Cobh Ramblers and Cabinteely before, Galvin is looking to set an example for the less experienced players in the Longford Town first-team squad.
“I don’t think that it’s a thing where you have to go running around younger players giving them a hand on the pitch, I think that it’s just an example thing. For example, it’s like having the right food after games, in terms of having the right preparation and obviously the experience in England is after helping me, especially on the Strength and Conditioning and Sports Science side of things which I’m studying now so that’s a big help and I think all these things play a big part.”
While honing his own skills at Turf Moor during his tender years, Galvin noted that he always used to look at the likes of current English Internationals Danny Ings and Kieran Tripper when looking to try and improve his own game at the Lancashire based club.
“I think with young players, when I was young at least I used to look up to the older players and see what they were doing. I used to look at the likes of Steven Reid when he was at Burnley, Kieran Trippier and Danny Ings to look to see what they were doing, and I think younger players being looked after by older players should be the other way around in terms of the younger players having to want to want to be like the older players and have to want to pick up things.”
However, Evan, who is still a young gun in his own right, knows full well that younger players like himself must want to learn from the more experienced counterparts if they are to improve, emphasising that it is not always down to the more senior to hold their teammates hands as such.
“It’s not all on the older lads to go and hold their hand either you kind of want to have to learn, want to look at people. So, I want to maybe set an example, and be as professional as I can be when I was back in England and then its up to young players to take notice, especially when you’ve got the likes of Darren Meenan, Shane O’Connor and Chris Mulhall there. Darren was at Dundalk and Rovers before! So it’s up to the younger players to look at these and want it for yourself.”
With the re-introduction of the Playoffs and a more level playing field in terms of budgets, Galvin is relishing the prospect of playing in a division that doesn’t have a free-spending side blowing the rest of the competition away, which will, in his eyes, make for a far more competitive spectacle than previous years.
“I think probably the budget side of it will play a big role this season. I don’t think there’ll be a Waterford or Limerick in terms of the budget side of it. I think this year its going to be a bit more even in terms of budgets. I think that will make it a much closer league this year and it’ll be quite close right to the end so having the playoffs back will make it much better.”
With promotion being the loud and clear message coming from the Longford Town camp, the 22-year-old is hoping that he can help the cause greatly this term alongside the experience that is available from the likes from the duo act of both Neale Fenn and Daire Doyle as the first-team ramp up preparations ahead of the big kick-off on Saturday night at home to Cobh Ramblers.
“Get promoted, that’s it. Win games. With pre-season, I don’t really read into them too much. Some teams might look into it and say that’s how that team will play but I’d just say we should get our heads down and if we play the way Neale wants us to play and listen to himself and Daire, who have both got a wealth of experience, we have the players to boot and we have young players with experience in myself and Dan O’Reilly and I think if we get a good run of results and stay right in the mix until the end of the season, we’ve got a good shout of getting promoted which should be the aim this year.”
And finally, Galvin is hoping that he can solidify a place in Neale Fenn’s starting eleven throughout the season and hopefully build on his pre-season form shown in previous games.
“For myself anyway, I want to get in the team, stay in the team and score more goals. I’ve an awful habit of scoring in pre-season and then hardly scoring a goal for the rest of the year so hopefully I’ll rectify that this year and notch in a few goals this year for the team!”
As mentioned above, Longford Town will begin their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign with a mouth-watering home clash against Cobh Ramblers at the City Calling stadium on Saturday the 24th of February. Kick-off at the Strokestown Road venue is at the usual time of 7.30pm.