Peter Canavan on politics, justice, Tyrone, getting older and positive people

‘I never seriously considered entering politics’

Darragh Canavan, left, and Ruairi Canavan of Ulster University celebrate with their father, former Tyrone legend Peter Canavan, after victory in the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Sigerson Cup final match between UCD and Ulster University at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

PETER Canavan believes the GAA has shown moral courage by publicly supporting the families of Sean Brown and Patsy Kelly in their pursuit of justice – and says he “never seriously considered” entering the political arena.

In a wide-ranging interview in The Irish News, the two-time All-Ireland winner also revealed he doesn’t see himself ever returning to the sidelines, bar his involvement at schools’ level.

Canavan spent two years with the Fermanagh footballers in 2012 and 2013 and his last managerial posting came a year later with Cavan Gaels.

Since then, the 53-year-old has focused his energies on his club Errigal Ciaran, where he is vice-chairman, supporting the Brown and Kelly families as well as joining the growing lobby for securing a safer A5 road between Ballygawley and Omagh that has claimed the lives of 54 people since 2006.

He is also the new co-owner of Canavan’s, formerly Kelly’s Inn.

On his own motivations to become involved in the campaign for justice, Canavan said: “These things are about citizenship, about right and wrong, it’s standing up for right.

“It is much easier for sport and politics not to mix but from time to time there is a moral judgment to be made and that’s a question for your own conscience. If you hold a position in a club, you have to show strong leadership.”

However, mainstream politics was never a serious option for the Tyrone legend.

“There were times I possibly felt like it, but I didn’t seriously consider it because you could be at football seven nights a week. I didn’t want to be in politics seven nights a week.

“If you’re not prepared to lift the phone to somebody at 12 o’clock at night, then there is no point being there.”

Canavan also discusses Tyrone’s Ulster Championship chances against Cavan on Sunday and why he is happy never to coach or manage his sons Darragh and Ruairi.