GAA Football

Colm Cavanagh set for another Tyrone campaign

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh (right) and Ronan McNamee and Kerry's Paul Murphy in action during the Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final between Tyrone and Kerry at Croke Park, Dublin on Sunday August 11 2019. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Francis Mooney

COLM Cavanagh has ended months of speculation about his future by committing to Tyrone for 2020.

The former All-Star’s decision to put thoughts of retirement on hold is a huge boost to the Red Hands as they prepare for another big challenge for the All-Ireland title.

Cavanagh (32) himself had cast doubts over his readiness to return when, back in August in the immediate aftermath of the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry, he spoke of the demands and the increasing pressure from professional and family life.

The only remaining link with the last of Tyrone’s three Sam Maguire Cup winning teams in 2008, the midfielder is set to embark on a 14th season with the Red Hands.

“The rumours were a bit off the mark. He hasn’t retired, he’s prepared to give it a lash, and we’re all pleased that that’s the case,” said manager Mickey Harte.

“He’s been a great stalwart for this team, and a very versatile player.

“He has a lot of experience that we can ill-afford to do with out at the minute.''

His decision comes as a welcome item of good news for manager Mickey Harte, who has in recent weeks learned of an injury which could keep skipper Mattie Donnelly out for six months, along with attacker Connor McAliskey’s decision to opt out of the squad for the season ahead.

Harte continued: “Colm has a lot of experience and he has a lot of the attributes necessary for a midfielder-come-sweeper type player.

“He has worked hard on that over the years, and I suppose he’s the man who has played it more than anyone else, and that has put him ahead of the posse, so to speak.”

The Moy man has perfected the midfield-sweeper role, attaining levels of excellence demonstrated by the fact that he won All-Star awards as a midfielder in 2017 and as a full-back a year later, without altering his role with Tyrone.

Apart from the departure of McAliskey, who has indicated that he may return after taking a year out, Harte expects to have his full complement of players available again in the season ahead.

But his backroom team has undergone a significant overhaul.

Former Antrim attacker Kevin Madden has come in as coach, while ex-Ulster Rugby strength and conditioning coach Jonny Davis is the new S&C coach.

They replace Stephen O’Neill and Peter Donnelly. The latter has travelled in the opposite direction to his predecessor, taking up a full-time role with Ulster Rugby, while also joining the backroom team of new Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney.




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GAA Football