Football

Peter Canavan pays touching tribute to his hero Art McRory

The late Art McRory
The late Art McRory The late Art McRory

NOBODY summed up the legacy of the late Art McRory – the man and manager – better than one of his most loyal students, Peter Canavan.

Following the passing of a true legend of the game, at aged 82, Canavan’s touching tribute was poetry itself.

“Art was a contradiction on so many levels,” said the Errigal Ciaran man. “He trained us like dogs; some of it was savage, but he cared for us like eggs.

“His duty of care to us went beyond that of a manager. But, once you played under Art, he saw you as one of his men.”

A PE teacher and Dungannon Clarke’s to his marrow, McRory’s three managerial spells with his native Tyrone spanned over two decades during which he led the Red Hands to five Ulster titles in 1984, ’86, 95, ’96 and 2001 and finished All-Ireland runners-up in the ’86 and ’95.

Canavan played seven years under McRory during his two later spells as Tyrone manager – a GAA figure the Allstar forward was in awe of from the beginning.

“What inspired me to play for Tyrone was watching them get to their first All-Ireland final in 1986.

“People like Frank McGuigan, Eugene McKenna, Kevin McCabe, Damien O’Hagan, Plunkett Donaghy – these boys were household names.

“You have to bear in mind Tyrone hadn’t done much prior to that for a football-mad county. All that was achieved under the watchful eye of Art McRory.

“I went to games as a cub and to get to play with some of those players was great, but to be managed by Art itself was special.”

Noel McGinn paid tribute to Art McRory
Noel McGinn paid tribute to Art McRory Noel McGinn paid tribute to Art McRory

Canavan added: “Sometimes people say you shouldn’t meet your heroes because it can taint your impression of them - but that was far from the case with Art. He left so many people better off, not just by playing under him but knowing him.

“A lot of people saw Art just from a footballing perspective, but they didn't get to see the man behind that, and there was a much bigger picture than what you saw on the field.

“The impression he gave was ‘rough and ready’ – yet behind it all, there was a very compassionate and intelligent man.

“There’ll be so many players from Tyrone devastated at this news.”

Former Tyrone player Noel McGinn, who won two Ulster titles under McRory’s tutelage, said: “Art’s greatest achievement isn’t what he won – he won Ulster titles, National League titles, McKenna Cups and was heavily involved in Railway Cups – his legacy will be growing the games in Tyrone back in the early 70s and instilling the belief that we could compete with the very best, that Tyrone teams had nothing to fear.

“Any Tyrone player that has won anything over the last 20 years would have felt the ripple-effect of Art McRory. He unified the county and made us successful.”

Peter Canavan was devastated to hear of Art McRory's passing
Peter Canavan was devastated to hear of Art McRory's passing Peter Canavan was devastated to hear of Art McRory's passing