GAA Football

Tyrone aiming to shoot - and shout - down Dublin: Colm Cavanagh

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh at their Garvaghey training centre, where intense preparations have taken place to face Dublin. Picture by Hugh Russell

FALL-OUTS on the training pitch. Brothers and housemates not speaking to each other. Colm Cavanagh has seen and not heard it all this year.

And when he isn't being quiet himself, he's guldering at team-mates on the pitch.

All in the cause of taking Tyrone to another All-Ireland Final.

The big midfielder has been in one before, coming on as a late sub in the 2008 triumph against Kerry, and even scoring a point to boot, as a 21-year-old.

He'd played in five of Tyrone's previous Championship games that summer, but getting back to the ultimate stage has proved harder than he might have expected – and tougher still, Tyrone have to get past back-to-back All-Ireland Champions Dublin.

"It is a massive occasion now, and it's only when you get older that you realise that these days don't come around too often, so you have to relish it."

Although he's now one of the oldest on the panel, only younger than sibling and skipper Sean (34) and Justin McMahon (31), Colm is delighted with the attitude the newer players have brought:

"A lot of younger lads have come in and brought fresh ideas, fresh approaches. They bring something different and everyone who is coming in is adding value.

"They're not just happy to be here, they're striving to get in the 26 and get in the 15.

"To be successful in any way, we need everybody pulling behind each other and pushing each other on, and that's what's been happening in this campaign especially."

Indeed the intensity has sometimes spilled over, he reveals: "You only have to come to any training session or any in-house game, guys are falling out with each other, and going back and sharing a room with them that night and maybe not speaking for a while. That's how fierce things are.

"As you get older, you tend to just enjoy every training session and every game so much more than you do when you're younger. So I'm just enjoying it."

The Red Hands have a team worth shouting about again and Cavanagh is looking forward in more ways than one to taking on the Dubs this Sunday:

"It's going to be huge. Hopefully it's going to be a tight game, and it could take something special from someone in the teams to get them over the line, or a bit of luck.

"I'm just hoping that someone special on our team can step up and do something different."

If cajoling team-mates helps then Colm will certainly play his part: "I wouldn't be the biggest talker in the changing room, but when I get out on to the pitch, I would air a lot of things to the lads and try and keep them on their toes, because there's no time for taking breaks in the modern game.

"I try and talk to the younger lads as much as I can and try and give them any wee bits of advice that I can pass on."

The not talking to big brother Sean is only on the subject of the latter's imminent retirement from inter-county football.

The Tyrone skipper almost finished up last year, but couldn't countenance ending by having been sent off the pitch in the quarter-final defeat to Mayo for two yellow cards.

The end of Sean's 16-year stint with Tyrone has been widely publicised but Colm insisted: "It doesn't affect me at all. We don't really talk about it, I don't think about it too much.

"He's probably accepted that this year will be his last year, whether he likes it or not, but we don't really tend to talk about it.

"I think he has enjoyed this campaign the most out of the last number of years.

"You can just see it in him, he's really loving coming to training, he's really loving going to the gym, and that's good to see, because I think last year, even before the Mayo game, I didn't see him doing the things that he's doing this year."

Certainly the captain has impressed, and is Tyrone's top scorer in this Championship campaign with 0-14 (0-11 frees).

Obviously everyone involved with the Red Hands would love Sean's career to finish in an All-Ireland Final, but Colm knows beating Dublin will be extremely difficult.

However, he won't fixate too much on previous meetings, preferring to move on to the future:

"We played them in the League this year and it was close. You learn every day out, every day at training. Every day you pull on a pair of football boots I think you learn something.

"You could look back at every day against Dublin in years gone by, but it's a new year, new teams, fresh faces.

"Everything is different, the variables are massive, so you learn from the past, but you have to live in the present."

"Every season is different. Yeah, last year was a big disappointment, and it is a motivating factor definitely this year, and we're delighted to be one step further.

"But at the same time, it's a new year, a new challenge, you can't live on anything that's gone in the past, so we're just taking everything at face value this year and seeing where it has taken us - and it has taken us to the semi-final."

As it was over the past two seasons, his own form has been very good, excellent against Donegal and Armagh.

"Personally I'm feeling good, even though I'm 30 years of age now. I'm really enjoying it, and the mood in the camp is good, everything is very positive.

"This is my 11th year now, so I don't really change too much about my routine. I approach every game probably the same, albeit that it's in the back of your head that it's an All-Ireland semi-final and there's going to be 70- or 80-thousand at the game."

Plenty roaring on Tyrone – on and off the pitch.

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