GAA Football

Tyrone stalwart Sean Cavanagh looking forward to another season

Sean Cavanagh is sent-off late on in Tyrone's All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo
Kevin Kelly

IT WAS the news all Tyrone Gaels had been waiting for as team captain Sean Cavanagh confirmed via social media he was giving it another year in the Red Hand jersey.

The Moy man was in Cookstown last night along with the Tyrone management and squad to collect the medals that they won in 2016 and he is looking forward to the new season.

“I had a few words with Mickey on Tuesday to let him know that I’m giving it another year for Tyrone,” said Cavanagh.

“It was hard to walk away from the circumstances that prevailed that day in Croke Park [v Mayo]. I have had a couple of months to think about it since then and have spoken to the people that I needed to speak to and my body is feeling okay.

"I’m feeling pretty strong and fingers crossed I can continue in the same vein as last year and train as hard as I can and hopefully make a good contribution in 2017. I love Gaelic football, I love playing the game and if I can get another year playing at the top level so be it.”

Cavanagh, of course, is the sole survivor from the Sam Maguire-winning team of 2003 and he admits he took on board advice some of his team-mates on that side gave him.

“It is something that I have been acutely aware of having seen a number of my friends retire from inter-county football through the last six or seven years,” he said.

“I have obviously been around longer than most and I have been able to have a chat with the likes of Philip Jordan, Ryan Mellon, Enda McGinley and Conor Gormley and every one of them all told me that they felt that they retired too soon and they could have done a bit more.

"I think that is probably the nature of the competitiveness of the guys who have played at the top level anyway but the big thing for me was that the body is feeling strong enough to do it.

2I wouldn’t say that I’m one hundred percent injury free but relatively speaking my body has been holding up pretty well but I know that I will have to manage things. I’m not 18 anymore and I’m not out with Sparky Bradley and Lee Brennan kicking balls 60 metres before training.

"To be ready for the league, you do need that sharpness about you so I don’t think that I will be playing as much as some of the other guys. I do want to be training though, I don’t want to be someone who is drifting in the background and not doing the same amount of work as everybody else.

"I am not that type of person, I would walk away rather than dip in and dip out. I want to work as hard as everyone else but there may be a bit of reduced time in terms of the competiveness in the early season.”

That narrow defeat at Croke Park at the hands of Mayo really hurt Tyrone and in particular their influential Captain who was forced to watch the crucial closing stages from the side-line after being sent off. He feels however that Tyrone have the strongest squad in all his time being involved at senior level.

“Within our squad we felt that we had more than enough to go to the final if not win it and it hurt us not to achieve that target,” he admits.

“I have been involved with a lot of squads and I would have to say that this is the strongest squad we have ever had. What makes me believe that is to see some of the guys who were numbered from 16-to-34 who have really stamped their authority on the club championship this year, the Pomeroy lads and the Killyclogher lads, wee Sparky Bradley has been out of this world.

"Those guys probably didn’t get as much game time as they would have liked, but they are only going to go in one direction and that is improve. If we can stay together as a team and add a few more new faces, I have no doubt that we will be a force to be reckoned with next season.”

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