IF Sean Cavanagh is ever afforded an episode of Laochra Gael, it’s a dead cert that Armagh will feature heavily.
As a precocious 20-year-old back in 2003, Sean Cavanagh was part of the first ever Tyrone team to win the All-Ireland title. As if anyone needed reminding, they overcame Armagh in the final.
While on the verge of tears, he delivered a rousing speech in the huddle prior to throw-in. On a team of leaders, he was already afforded top dog status.
He also ran riot in the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final against the Orchard County on his way to collecting a second Celtic Cross.
Those famous wins were only more satisfying considering his personal background. His home club is the Moy, situated right on the Tyrone-Armagh border.
He also won a MacRory Cup with St Patrick’s Armagh, and is Charlie Vernon’s brother-in-law.
It’s safe to say the Tyrone management did a sterling job then in putting Cavanagh up for interrogation earlier this week at Garvaghey.
The five-time All-Star is cherishing one last battle against his old friends from across the River Blackwater in Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final sell out at Croke Park.
“It’s amazing, I didn’t really have to think about the draw. After they won on Saturday night I almost assumed it would be Armagh and so it is.
“The younger members of our team probably don’t remember all those battles and it’s a bit strange to look on at the Armagh games at the moment. You’re watching John Toal, Kieran McGeeney, Paddy McKeever and Paul McGrane standing on the sideline.
“Those are the guys that I had the direct battles with in the early 2000s and mid 2000s. it’s a bit strange for me, I’m on the playing side of the white line and they’re on the other one.”
He added: “They have that bit of focus and drive, having played against those guys you realise how driven they were and how strong as individuals they were and they have their stamp on the new team.”
The 34-year-old has made it clear that this is his last year in a Tyrone jersey. In their Ulster final win, he looked a little non-plussed to be substituted with twenty minutes to go. In the cold light of day, he understands Mickey Harte’s hard logic.
“I suppose it’s a little bit strange for me. At this stage in my career, I really am just buzzing to be part of this team. I’ve said this before, I can see the talent that’s even outside the 26. I can see the effort the guys are putting in, some of the guys that aren’t getting a minute of football are really top footballers.
“It’s a good place for Tyrone to be in at the minute. We’re in that sort of a squad, there’s almost that acceptance that players are going to start and some are going to finish it, obviously Mickey will make those decisions. When you see the Darren McCurrys and Lee Brennans and the quality we have in reserve, you realise those guys deserve game-time and they’re taking their chances too.”
FULL PREVIEW IN THIS WEEK’S ULSTER HERALD
Posted: 9:20 am August 4, 2017