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Sentimental Cavanagh reflects on sunny days and a fine legacy

 

By Declan Bogue

For the second year in a row, we got a look at little Clara and Eva Cavanagh, faces flushed with excitement, celebrating an Ulster title with their county.

Only we can't see their perspectives. We can only wonder what it is like for the daughters of Tyrone captain Sean as he brings them up onto the podium in Clones, one in the big arm of daddy, the other in the strong embrace of their uncle Colm, listening to the speeches, looking down on their people getting the party started.

"To stand here with my wife, my children and my brother is really, really special. This is what the GAA is all about, knowing that we are going to have these memories in the years to come," said the 34-year-old Tyrone captain when he had lifted the Anglo-Celt along with his brother Colm.

"Hot sunny days in Clones is a memory for me; I remember standing on the hill in 1995 and I grew up with that memory and now I can pass this onto the next generation."

After praising Ronan O'Neill for the audacity of his lobbed goal; "I would not have been allowed into the house by my Da if I ever tried that. He would have kicked me through the living room if I did that," he continued in the same, gloriously sentimental vein.

Asked if it was all the more gratifying given how he toyed with the idea of retirement during Tyrone's recent fallow years he answered: "As you come to the end of your career, you look to leave a legacy and leave the jersey in a better place. I got the jersey in 2002 and it was in a good place at the time so it is nice to pass it onto a new generation."

Last August, Cavanagh wore the look of absolute heartache in the bowels of Croke Park. Tyrone had been caught unawares by the aggression Mayo employed in the All-Ireland quarter final and he himself had been dismissed, having been conned into getting a second yellow card.

"Last year really hurt, standing in Croke Park, knowing that we did not bring to that game what we had in the locker…" recalls the Moy man.

"That will have made us a stronger side but only time will tell if we have learned from it. I sincerely hope we have."

This was not his finest day, taken off with a decent chunk of the game left to play.

But Tyrone are always evolving, and have young talents to eventually take his place.

The next time he pulls the Tyrone jersey on, he will equal the record of Championship appearances of Ó Sé brothers Marc and Tomás on 88.

"It is really humbling. I could nearly count you through every minute of every game," Cavanagh recalled.

"It is sad to think that it is coming to an end but I have had an amazing career and to walk away on a sunny day like this in Clones is a memory I will take into retirement."

It would appear that the league gave us a false reading of Tyrone. They have threats in every position and a balance to their squad that puts them in a position of competing come September.

They have the love of their county too after all those years under the jackboot of Donegal and Monaghan.

The most popular man among them is still their manager. It seems ludicrous in the light of these triumphs that Mickey Harte is in the final year of his agreement with the county board. But here we are.

Belfast Telegraph

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