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Cavanagh set for one last shot at glory with Tyrone

By Donnchadh Boyle

Sean Cavanagh is "99 per cent sure" he's ready to bring the curtain down on his intercounty career at the end of the current season.

Having made his debut way back in 2002, the Tyrone star is in his 16th campaign with the Red Hands and he doesn't envisage being around in 2018.

"I'm pretty sure of that," Cavanagh replied, when asked if he plans to hang up the boots at the end of the season. "I'm 99 per cent confident of that."

The Moy clubman turns 34 later this month and is one of the longest serving players on the intercounty circuit but with the end in sight he is trying to enjoy every minute.

"In my eyes, this is it. And genuinely I do absolutely love every minute that I'm training. It's absolutely baltic in Garvaghy but I do love going up and training. I love spending time with the guys. I know that you'll never be able to replace that camaraderie that you have with the team," he said.

"We're lucky in Tyrone that we don't have any club rifts, we have everybody who turns up to train for Tyrone and play for Tyrone is 100 per cent committed to try and do the best for Tyrone.

"That environment is a great environment to be in. I'm just living it, training day by day and I'm really enjoying it at the moment because I know that this will be the end of it."

Cavanagh is motivated by a desire not to overstay his welcome in the Tyrone set up.

"You want to be fair to the rest of the guys too. I'd never like to think that I'd be living on a reputation or something like that," he said.

"I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my career to win what I have won but at the same time I don't want to be the person that is training once a week or every other session to try and be part of something where the rest of the guys are putting in the hard work.

"That was the basis I came back on this year, that if I wasn't fit to do the things that everyone else was doing, including the gym stuff and four or five nights a week, I wouldn't do it. I know that will be more difficult next year and the year after so I have it in my head that this is it."

Cavanagh is hoping to go out with a bang and says that Tyrone's players will do whatever it takes to reach the top including dipping into their own pockets if necessary.

Accounts released by Club Tyrone last week revealed that they spent €485,000 on their county teams in 2016, a figure that pales in comparison to other counties.

Dublin regularly put well in excess of €1m into their teams while Mayo spent €1.63m last year as a number of their teams enjoyed remarkable runs, including the senior footballers contesting an All-Ireland final replay.

And while Cavanagh insists they want for nothing in the Tyrone set-up, he does admit to feeling jealous of some of the perks enjoyed by others.

"Like anything you'd like that wee bit more to get the best nutrition or best whatever. But the guys are equally willing that if the county's not spending it on us, the guys will spend on themselves. They don't really cause that much of a fuss about it," Cavanagh said.

"There are times that you're slightly jealous of the likes of the Dublins. We get the basics right. I suppose as a player group, we don't see probably ourselves as that high maintenance.

"It's like anything, I think everyone looks at Dublin and raises an eyebrow when you see them with their cars and whatever else. At times you do feel that.

"But look, we're amateurs, we're football players, I think the best thing about our group is we're lads that are in it for the right reasons, to try and win games. The expenses, the commercial bit, we don't get too carried away, whether it comes or not.

"We're all focused on that common goal to try and get silverware back in the county. Whatever happens outside of that is beyond our control."

Cavanagh insists he's not ready to settle for a bit part role on his swansong.

"Being sub is obviously something that I'm not all that used to but my body is feeling pretty good at the minute and I'm hoping to stay injury free," said Cavanagh at the launch of the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 Football Championships.

"Like anyone in the squad you want to have a starting position."

Even if Cavanagh won't be part of the set-up in 2018, he expects Mickey Harte to be in situ, despite the county board opting against extending his deal to the end of next year, meaning his term is officially up when the current campaign ends.

"We as players, we know that he's the man for the job. We don't see him as not being there next year. It's an automatic of Mickey Harte being the Tyrone manager and probably will be for a few years to come," he said.

"I'd be very surprised if Mickey still wasn't there next year. Like anything, it'll be determined by success but I know Mickey, he's no plans to walk away."

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