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Sean Cavanagh

Sean Cavanagh

Moy's journey to Croke Park has united a community


By John Harrington

Sean Cavanagh says his club Moy Tír na nÓg’s journey to Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Final against Michael Glaveys of Roscommon has united the local community.

Gaelic Games have traditionally been perceived as predominantly the sport of Catholics in the ‘six counties’, but Moy’s success has brought together people of all creeds and ethnic backgrounds in the town.

“The town has been buzzing the last couple of months,” said Cavanagh at today's launch of the AIB Intermediate and Junior All-Ireland Finals in Croke Park.

“I suspect this week won't been much different, maybe much more. We're just riding a crest of a wave for the minute.

“Moy is this nice wee village, a small town. People from all religious backgrounds and ethnic minorities and they're all embracing the whole GAA bit. It's amazing to see.

“Maybe we would have had a few problems back in the early 90s but now it's harmonious community to live in. The last few number of months has made it even more so.

“There will probably be people coming to Croke Park on Saturday night who might not have even watched The Moy play but that's part of the whole bandwagon, the whole furore that's encapsulated our run over the last few months.”

Moy won their All-Ireland semi-final in dramatic fashion last Saturday when they scored 1-2 in injury-time to turn a three-point deficit into a two-point victory.

Sean Cavanagh of Moy Tir na nÓg in action against Marc O Sé of An Ghaeltacht during the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Semi-Final.
Sean Cavanagh of Moy Tir na nÓg in action against Marc O Sé of An Ghaeltacht during the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Semi-Final.

Cavanagh and his brother Colm played a key role in the all-important equalising goal. Colm drove in a long ball and Sean helped divert it into the path of Harry Loughran who finished coolly.

“I actually turned around to Harry about a minute before that ball came in and I shouted to Colm - I'm not going to take credit for orchestrating anything - I literally roared to Colm, 'Just whack it in. Just put it in the square'.

“At that stage, they were a man down and weren't playing with a sweeper. I could see myself and Harry were inside. I turned around to Harry and said, 'If something comes in here, we've got to get our hands on it and we've got to go for goal'.

“Low and behold a minute later a ball was played in and it broke in Harry's favour. Harry's scored a few goals for us this year, it was very much a case of right man, right place and he tucked it away well.”

Cavanagh and his marker Marc Ó Sé had fought out an epic individual battle over the course of the 60 minutes plus injury-time, and he admits it was ‘emotional’ to go head to head with one of the modern greats of the game for one last time.

“Myself and Marc have soldiered together for a long time,” said Cavanagh. “We've played International Rules and played against him for Tyrone and also in Railway Cups.

“There's the utmost respect there and I really enjoyed playing against him on Saturday. It was quite emotional because we knew it was the last time.

“We shook hands before the game, we shook hands after. I told him what I thought of him after the game, I told him it was an absolute honour to play against one of the best defenders the game has ever seen.

“It was a wee bit fracas in the middle but all good GAA stories have something like that in them.”

Sean Cavanagh celebrates with his wife Fionnuala and kids, from left, Clara, age four, Sean, ten months, and Eva, age six, after Moy's All-Ireland semi-final win over An Ghaeltacht.
Sean Cavanagh celebrates with his wife Fionnuala and kids, from left, Clara, age four, Sean, ten months, and Eva, age six, after Moy's All-Ireland semi-final win over An Ghaeltacht.

Moy’s run to the All-Ireland Final has filled the void left by Cavanagh’s retirement from inter-county football with Tyrone and he admits the finality of that decision probably won’t hit him until after Saturday’s All-Ireland Final.

“Yeah, I've just completely forgotten that I've retired from the inter-county game,” he said.

“That's being completely and totally honest. I've just been that preoccupied and we're training on a Tuesday and Thursday evening as I would have before.

“I don't miss the long commutes to training for Tyrone. I'm sure I will miss that in time, maybe in the summer it will really start to hit home but for the last few months we've been on this crest of a wave.

“Myself and Colm would have training together as we normally would have done. It's been business as usual. I'm sure after Saturday night, there will be that bit of a lull there.

“That's possibly where I'll start to realise that I'm not longer a Tyrone footballer. The club thing has really replaced that and more in the past while.”

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