Sean Cavanagh adds the magic touch as Moy reach Ulster decider
Stalked by success for as long as he can remember, Sean Cavanagh still has that golden touch.
With nothing to show for the best part of 20 years of toil with his club, it looked destined to end that way.
But all the while, the honours were flowing with Tyrone, with whom he has won every possible honour.
As if by some pre-ordained quirk of fate, Cavanagh’s retirement from inter-county football a few months ago has seamlessly coincided with Moy’s spectacular emergence.
A first championship title in 35 years ended the famine, and now the Tir na nOgs have qualified for the Ulster Club IFC title.
“It almost feels like fate. It’s strange. I’ve been around for so long, I’ve been playing for the seniors since I was fifteen, and ten minutes after I retire from county, I’m getting the success at club level,” said Cavanagh, whose seven points haul helped the club defeat Newbridge of Derry in Sunday’s semi-final.
The former Footballer of the Year admitted that he struggled to fully comprehend the spiritual connection that binds players from the likes of Crossmaglen and Slaughtneil to their clubs.
Now he gets it, and there’s a new perspective for this old dog, who’s happy to learn new tricks in the advancing years of his playing career.
“I can now really start to relate to the way that players in Crossmaglen and Slaughtneil, that I played with at Ulster level, were talking about the special club feeling and the club bond.
“To be honest, I never really had that, and now I’m starting to feel that, and what a feeling it is.
“It’s as good as pulling on a Tyrone jersey on a big day in Croke Park, just having your whole community, your family, sitting in the stand, it’s great.
“The buzz and the feeling is equal to anything that was there in the build-up to an All-Ireland.
“The club and the Moy have really embraced the run that we’re on at the moment, and we’re really riding the crest of a wave. It’s just a real special few weeks, and everything is going in the right direction.”
The Tyrone captain bowed out of the inter-county scene on a day of despair as the Red Hands crashed to a heavy All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.
But before he had time to wallow in regret and self-pity, he was quickly consumed by Moy’s bold challenge on the club championship front.
“This last couple of months, ever since that dark day in Croke Park against Dublin, I’ve tried to get away from all that by immersing myself in the club.
“The club is the thing that picks you up after those dark days, and ever since that, it has been blue skies and I have really enjoyed every minute of it.”
Moy are preparing to meet Down champions Rostrevor in the provincial decider on the weekend after next.
But at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday, they appeared to be heading for semi-final defeat to a dominant Newbridge side that led by 0-7 to 0-4 after playing into the wind.
A sensational second half performance from the Tyrone men turned the game on its head, with Harry Loughran grabbing two goals as they reeled off 2-11 on their way to a comfortable nine points win.
“That second half was really about throwing the shackles off and really going at them. That’s exactly what we did, and whenever we do that, we have some very direct players in the likes of big Ryan (Coleman) and Harry up front, who love taking men on, love breaking that line.
“And whenever we started to do that, we started to get success, and it was a case of attack being the best form of defence for us.
“Our management had told us about how in the third quarter, Newbridge had blown most teams away this year in Ulster and in Derry, so we knew there was a danger there that if we didn’t do it, we had to just go and throw caution to the wind, and thankfully it paid dividends. We got the crucial scores at the right times.”