Sean Cavanagh basks in 'beautiful day'
By John Harrington
Sean Cavanagh felt destiny’s hand on the small of his back when he ran out onto the Croke Park pitch for last Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Final.
Everyone presumed his Croke Park story had been denied a fitting final chapter when Tyrone were hammered by Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland Semi-Final.
So when his club Moy Tír na nÓg's run to the All-Ireland Club Final gave him another opportunity to leave Headquarters on a high, he couldn’t help feeling their victory over Michael Glaveys on Saturday was written in the stars.
“I'll be honest, I was thinking like that the last few days, maybe it was fate, maybe last August wasn't meant to be my last day in Croke Park,” said an emotional Cavanagh after the match.
“I left that day gutted, walking up and seeing my family and thinking, 'surely this is how it ends'. It was sheer gut wrenching disappointment.
“Maybe there was a bigger plan out there. Maybe I was meant to leave with my family on a bigger day like this at Croke Park. That's what it feels like right now.”
Cavanagh won three All-Ireland titles with Tyrone at Croke Park, but Saturday’s triumph felt like a much more intimate and emotional experience.
“It's right up there, it's so much different but so much more beautiful in so many ways," said Cavanagh.
“There are lads there obviously I've been playing with since I was eight years of age on that team.
“With the county there's the masses, there's the euphoria that spreads the country, (but) the intimacy, the closeness, the sheer emotion you have from winning with your community, your friends, everyone you're going to live your entire life with is such a special feeling.
“I suppose at some stage I'll sit back and think about it all but, I suppose, I had success so early in my county career and I maybe didn't appreciate it as much because it was coming so quickly.
“I appreciate this every bit because I started in the Moy senior team as a 15-year-old, back in 1998, so almost 20 years on I've got my first All-Ireland. I got my first Tyrone (club title) earlier, a few months ago, so it's up there, it's up there at the very top.”
“The full-back Tommy McNicholl, I've been playing with him since I'm eight or nine years of age.
“Niall Conlon, Karol McQuade, he's a couple of years older than me, he played me a pass in the first ever game I played (senior) in 1998 and I scored a goal. He came on there (today) with a couple of minutes to go.
“Things like that, you can't write the script, it's just...I don't know, it's the GAA at its best. It's just emotional, I feel much more emotional now than what I did with any All-Ireland win.
“With them it brings the euphoria, the buzz, the crowds, but this goes straight to the heart and that's the reality.”
“It's such a beautiful evening to come here with the club and to see everyone that, you know, we'll live the rest of our lives remembering this day and talking about this around pubs in the Moy and coffee shops.
“Look, it's going to take a while to sink in but I'll definitely get used to it.”
After the Cup presentation, Cavanagh ran back out onto the pitch and down the side-line until he found his wife Fionnuala and children Eva, Clara, and Sean Jnr.
They all then posed together with the Cup for a happy photo that will surely adorn their mantlepiece for years to come.
“My wife doesn't normally allow GAA memorabilia around the house but that one will be very special,” said Cavanagh.
“I've been thinking about that one for a few days. Maybe that's it, maybe it's meant to be, that this is where it ends. It's a beautiful day.”