Sports

Emotional Cavanagh reflects on “amazing journey” .

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Emotional Cavanagh reflects on “amazing journey”  . thumbnail Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Dublin's Stephen Cluxton leaving the field after Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-final.

SEAN Cavanagh bade an emotional farewell to the Tyrone faithful as he brought the curtain down on an outstanding career.

The Red Hand captain played his last game for the county, sadly in a heavy defeat to the Dubs, and received a huge ovation as he departed the action in the 54th minute.

It was a time for reflection as the three-time All-Ireland winner began to accept that his playing days had come to an end after 16 seasons in the county colours.

"I've had an amazing journey, I've been very successful in so many ways. But time comes just to pass the baton on to a fantastic group of lads," he said.

There were tears, but one of the greatest players the game has produced found comfort in the company of family, as he clutched his young daughters Eva and Clara moments after David Coldrick's final whistle brought an end to Tyrone's championship run.

It was not a fitting end to a career that has gone some way to shaping the face of the modern game. It was somewhat inevitable that Jim Gavin's ruthless team would find no room for sentiment on its marauding path to another All-Ireland title and a special place in the sport's history.

But Sean Cavanagh has written his own epic history, winning three All-Ireland titles and five All-Stars as he played a central role in the county's most successful era.

"I'm trying to not make it emotional, but it's tough there at the final whistle," he said. "Like any human being, it's nice to have your family around, my two girls were there.

"It's all I know is representing Tyrone and just loving my county like anyone else would. I grew up supporting the county, I'll always support the county.

"I've done my best, I suppose that's the only thing I can say, I've given it everything I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.

Cavanagh had dearly wished for one last blast of glory with which to call time on his career. But it was not to be. From the moment Con Callaghan sent a rocked to the Tyrone net in the fifth minute at Croke Park, the writing was on the wall for the Ulster champions.

"I told them in there that I'm so sorry that I could help bring them, the success that some of the older guys were able to help bring me at such an early stage.

"But it's not for the want of trying. Everyone in that group tried their very best." Cavanagh conceded he had been blown away by the quality and power of a Dublin team that cruised to a 12 points win and a place in yet another All-Ireland final.

"We just came up against the greatest GAA team that I have ever played against.

"I told a few of the Dublin lads that on the way off the field, it's tough luck probably to be part of an era that a team of that magnitude has dominated the sport, that I never thought was possible to dominate.

"It was evident today. I just can't understand just how far ahead of everyone they are. I dint think they were that far ahead, but I have to give it to them, they're an incredible set of athletes and an incredible set of football players." It was a difficult afternoon for the Moy man, who had to deal with the disappointment of suffering a heavy defeat alongside the emotion that surrounded his retirement "I have told our lads I feel sorry for our lads. I was lucky, I came into a team that were on the rise and had won Minors and U21s and were able to get the success quite early.

"But our lads, the Petey Hartes, the Mattie Donnellys, the Niall Sluddens, Tiernan McCanns, they're every bit as gifted and they would have played on those teams every bit as I would have played on those teams, but you have to sometimes bow to greatness and superiority, and that's where Dublin is at at the minute.

"Their movement, their power, is mind-blowing, and we have spent an awful lot of time in gyms since a couple of years ago with Peter Donnelly, we pushed our bodies to the very, very top end of the limits, and I believe we have some phenomenal athletes in that team.

"But they were just breezing past our guys. It is dispiriting, but at some stage you just have to accept.

"And probably this year it is easier to accept than it was last year for me, because this we were just beaten by a far superior outfit, and look, that's sport and you have to go with that."

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