GAA Football

Caolan Mooney warns hero Sean Cavanagh 'I'm not going to let you win'

Caolan Mooney says it wasn't a difficult decision to stick with his club rather than head to Australia
Andy Watters

IN his formative years, when he was “younger and naïve”, Caolan Mooney admits he was a Tyrone fan and Sean Cavanagh was his idol.

The former Collingwood star does things his own way. It’s quite a revelation for a man born and bred in Rostrevor, deep in the Mourne Mountains, but back in 2005 he watched his brother play for Down minors with a red and black jersey on and then changed to Tyrone’s red and white as the Red Hands beat his native county in the senior match.

“That’s long gone now,” says the Rostrevor clubman with a smile. He came up against boyhood hero Sean Cavanagh and his brother Colm when Down took on Tyrone in last summer’s Ulster final and on Sunday he’ll face-off against the Allstar midfielder duo again, this time in the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship final when Down champions Rostrevor take on Moy, Tyrone’s top dogs.

“From a very young age I was a big fan of Tyrone football,” Mooney explains.

“When I was younger and naive, I supported Tyrone. Sean Cavanagh was everything I wanted to be – big, physical… I wouldn’t say quick, but he’s not slow. He’s definitely a role model for young boys, through the years I’ve looked up to him and he’s had a lot of success.

“At the same time he’s had a lot of defeats that he’s come back and he had a great inter-county career. I’m sorry Sean, but I’m not going to let you win on Sunday.”

Victory at the Athletic Grounds would be secure a first Ulster title for the St Bronagh’s club and, as their most experienced player, Mooney will have a massive role to play for Shane Mulholland’s side. He proved his commitment to the club cause when he turned down a late offer to travel to Australia with Ireland’s International Rules panel.

“I was down for the six weeks of trials and I wasn’t in the initial squad,” he explained. “Then Paul Kerrigan pulled out because he was playing for Nemo Rangers and Conor McKenna got injured so I was asked to go the Wednesday before they flew out but I had to turn it down because Rostrevor was in the club championship.”

Was that a difficult decision? He explains: “It was a lot easier than you’d think – the oul fella is a part of the management team. That made the decision a bit easier.”

Rostrevor have enjoyed regular success in underage football in Down but the club has rarely been able to translate that to senior level. However, that all changed with a league and championship double this year.

“To be in an Ulster final is a great achievement and we don’t want it to end here because it (the run) has really brought our team together this year,” said Mooney.

“There’s a great togetherness and another win would push us into the All-Ireland series after Christmas and bring the bond a bit closer.

“Shane Mulholland has really driven it into us that we need to get out of intermediate level as quick as you can and never fall back down.

“We have a great mixture of youth and experience in our team and we’re back in Division One next year. That was our goal at the start of the year and we have succeeded in that. The intermediate championship was always going to be a bonus but now that our league campaign is over it’s all steam ahead to try and push on and win.”

He adds: “With the two Cavanaghs (Sean and Colm), Moy are going to be a formidable outfit but they have 13 other players there, it’s not a two-man outfit so we have to look at every player and see where we can try and pick holes.”

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