GAA Football

Dublin could suffer winter blues says retiring Cavanagh

Colm Cavanagh in action for Tyrone during the 2018 All-Ireland final against Dublin. Picture by Seamus Loughran

RETIRING Tyrone stalwart Colm Cavanagh firmly believes that a winter championship will see Dublin stripped of the crown they've held for five years running.

The Moy man last night shocked the country by announcing his retirement on the eve of the resumption of inter-county football.

The two-time Allstar and last remaining link to Tyrone's 2008 All-Ireland success says a restrictive knee injury, setting up his new business Inspired Tax Incentives and having two young kids at home were the primary factors in making the call.

Admitting that the knee would have prevented him reaching his potential in an inter-county championship this year, Cavanagh made the call after being unable to train on Saturday past, having missed the first week with work commitments.

While the prospect of a winter championship behind closed doors had no impact on his decision, the 33-year-old says it could the timing could have a major bearing on its winner.

“Coming into winter it's going to be cold and wet, but that probably presents an opportunity for other counties to try and stop Dublin.

“This winter championship will, in my opinion, throw up a different winner than the last five years given the bad conditions,” he told The Irish News.

An All-Ireland minor winner in 2004, Cavanagh added four Ulster senior championship medals to the Celtic Cross from 12 years ago, but despite a handful of semi-finals and one final defeat, Mickey Harte's team were unable to add another All-Ireland during Cavanagh's career.

He admits that the age profile of many of the county's top stars means the window is starting to narrow on them, but firmly believes the likes of Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte, currently in the late 20s, will get across the line before their time comes.

“I said to Mattie earlier, I've great faith in those lads and I genuinely believe there'll be something there before those boys leave, but it's a short window and they have to realise it

“Trying to tell boys when they're coming into a panel that it's a short career, they don't believe you, but my career went in a blink. Mattie must be near 30, touch wood he has a few years left but things start catching up on you.

“Most people start picking up injuries, you get slower and the young boys go past you. They have a few years, there's a good bunch there and they have to make hay while the sun shines.

“They've lads who can do it and they just need things to click at the right time. This could be their time, I do believe there's something in the pipeline that could throw a different winner this year.”

Even in spite of the knee injury, the ability to throw his lot properly in with the Moy for the duration of the club championship was something Cavanagh relished this summer.

He backs the idea of a split season and denounced the suggestion that Tyrone had breached the training ban during the club window.

“I didn't really know any different but it was a long season. You only have three or four weeks max off in a year if you're lucky. Even those weeks, you're still thinking about McKenna Cup or the league.

“It was nice this year to focus on the club. People said Tyrone were training behind closed doors which was complete lies. I had a gym in the shed and was doing runs at home.

“I enjoyed being able to focus on one team and give everything to them, and if I was going back into the county now I could the same.

“In my opinion, that sort of season works. How best that fits but that type of format is best in my eyes.”

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