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Ulster's lone star Cavanagh happy to join the club with a high five to legend brother


By Declan Gogue

Asked if his first All Star brings him some parity in the sibling rivalry with elder brother Sean, Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh delivers the quip: "Between me and Sean, we have six All-Stars. That will do us in the household. I don't think I will be hanging around that length of time to catch him!"

Friday night's GAA/GPA All Star for 30-year-old Cavanagh comes after being nominated for the last two annual awards and is due recognition for a player who has remodelled his game and become one of the finest and most effective in the country as Mickey Harte's sweeper.

It brings his club, the Moy, to 11 All Stars, Colm joining Plunkett Donaghy (1986) with a single All Star to add to Sean's five awards and Philip Jordan's four, leaving Moy the most decorated Tyrone club.

"It's nice to have. When you pop into the shops at home people bring it up," continued Cavanagh, who is in action this Sunday in the Ulster Intermediate club Championship against Newbridge of Derry.

And he insisted that his award came as a total surprise: "I didn't hear anything. You don't genuinely know until your name is called out whether you have it.

"You might have a suspicion. It comes in simple things such as being seated on end of the aisle and stuff like that. But ultimately you don't know. And that adds to the spectacle, too."

Accompanied by wife Levina to the ceremony at Dublin Convention Centre, he put it into words what scooping the prestigious award meant.

"There is talk throughout the year about winning All-Stars and what it means. And throughout the year you don't tend to think too much about it. You are just playing football and winning games and that is the case. Every player will tell you that," he maintains.

"But, as the season winds down, these sort of events are put together and they are superbly organised. To actually win one makes it extra special, heading down and attending the night. That whole buzz and uncertainty as to whether you are going to win anything. When your name is called out you are trying to look cool and calm but nah, you are excited inside."

He is undecided as to whether Tyrone might have expected to land another award, with Peter Harte seemingly in a strong position prior to their heavy All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.

"Whenever you start looking at the people nominated, you look at the quality and wonder: 'how am I going to get one here?'

"There are so many players, not just in Tyrone but in other counties, who could have been in with a shout.

"I wouldn't like to be the man or woman picking the actual team because there are so many factors and variables that come into it. How they make their choice and so on. Every county is going to have their thoughts that 'such and such should have got one', and feel hard done by.. I have got that in years gone by."

With the seasons now re-jigged and the National League due to start for Tyrone on January 28 with an away fixture to Galway, Cavanagh does not envisage taking too much time off if and when Moy's run comes to an end before he is back on the inter-county treadmill.

"If I don't keep going, don't try to tick over and keep myself in some sort of order, it is a long road to get back," the accountant reasons. "The types of training I will be doing over winter will be tailored and individualised to what I need personally. I am sure Mickey will allow me to do that, to give me that bit of time depending on how things go."

In the meantime he has had to cancel three holidays over the last two months due to his club commitments extending further into the winter than he ever experienced.

"The club training isn't as intense at this time of year because the games are coming thick and fast and it is inevitable that you are going to slow down in the gym, you are not going to be doing anything crazy this time of year."

PwC GAA/GPA Football All Stars

1. David Clarke (Mayo); 2. Chris Barrett (Mayo); 3. Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin); 4. Keith Higgins (Mayo); 5. Colm Boyle (Mayo); 6. Cian O'Sullivan (Dublin); 7. Jack McCaffrey (Dublin); 8. Colm Cavanagh (Tyrone); 9. James McCarthy (Dublin); 10. Dean Rock (Dublin); 11. Aidan O'Shea (Mayo); 12. Con O'Callaghan (Dublin); 13. Paul Mannion (Dublin); 14. Paul Geaney (Kerry); 15. Andy Moran (Mayo)

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