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Tyrone's Darragh Canavan Learning 'Small Things Make A Big Difference'

20 July 2023; PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June in football, Darragh Canavan of Tyrone, with his award at his local club Errigal Ciarán GAA in Tyrone. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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In the four years since he joined the Tyrone senior panel, Darragh Canavan doesn't think he's changed too much as a footballer. What has changed is the realisation that what he does off the pitch has consequences for what happens on it.

"It's more just getting a wee bit of experience and learning what it takes to keep your body right and stay relatively injury free. That's probably the big change," says Canavan, the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June in football.

"If you were to ask a few boys, I probably don't take off field stuff serious enough the odd time.

"I'm a sucker for a pizza! I enjoy them. It's not easy when you're a student, eating perfect all the time. I could probably cut down on the rubbish a wee bit.

"It's something that I'm trying to work on, trying to improve so I'll be in a better state to play. It's the small things, getting to the gym regularly and doing rehab to the letter of the law. The small things make a big difference. It's something I've learned over the years."

darragh canavan tyrone gaa

13 January 2019; Darragh Canavan of Tyrone in action against Eoghan Concannon of Derry during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final match between Tyrone and Derry at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Earlier this season, after Canavan scored 10 points as Tyrone drew with Westmeath in the final game of the championship group stage, former Armagh footballer Oisin McConville said he feels the young forward seems to have realised there's now an "onus" on him to be one of Tyrone's main scorers.

"Yeah, a wee bit," says Canavan when asked if he'd agree with McConville's assessment.

"Honestly, it's been about getting a run of games together for the first time in a lot of years with the club championship last year and then this year.


"You get a lot more confidence, get in better positions and get up to the speed of the game a lot easier than if you're playing bits and pieces.

"I had a wee bit more confidence this year and was able to get myself in better positions to have shots. That was probably it."

Occasionally, people tell Canavan that his style of play reminds them of his father Peter, one of Tyrone and Gaelic football's greatest ever forwards.


"We're different players in certain ways and we do some things similar enough," says Canavan.

"I'm not my father and I have a long way to go to be anywhere near the player he was. I'm my own player and my own person.

"He's a good role model to have. He doesn't force opinions or force you to do anything that you don't want to do.


"He'd point you in there right direction - what it takes off the field, just reminding you of wee things like that, we bits and pieces you can improve on.


"He doesn't sit down with us and go through minute by minute. We don't talk about it all the time. We actually don't talk about our football too often."

Just as last season was a breakthrough one for Darragh Canavan, this year has been so for his younger brother Ruairi.


"I don't know how much of a role model I am," says Darragh.

"He keeps me right more than I keep him right. He doesn't come asking me for advice too much. He's well able to look after himself. He's well able to kick ball.

"He looks after himself and he does the work. He's obsessed with football. He loves it.

"I got playing with him properly in last year's club championship. It was probably the first time we got a proper run of games both of us starting together

"I suppose we do [have a good connection on the pitch]. Ruairi gave me a bit of stick about not passing him a ball against Donegal when he was straight through. Maybe the connection isn't as good as it could be!

"It was a wee bit [of stick] at half-time and plenty after. It's a bit of craic too. Thankfully, it didn't matter. It wasn't a big deal but he definitely let me know about it.

"I still think we have a pretty good connection, growing up with each other and playing football in the garden, you pick up the movements."

darragh canavan tyrone ga

3 June 2023; Ruairi, left, and Darragh Canavan of Tyrone during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Tyrone and Armagh at O'Neill's Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Though it was tough on the body, Canavan enjoyed this year's new championship format, mainly due to the regularity of games.

After beating Donegal in the preliminary quarter-final, Tyrone were booted from the championship by a 12-point loss to Kerry.

Darragh Canavan wants Dooher and Logan to stay

"It was disappointment and regret, the two main things," says Canavan about the defeat.

"It felt like we hadn't performed to what we were capable of.

"You can't take anything away from Kerry. They made it hard for us and were really tough to break down. It's hard to put a finger on what exactly went wrong. We couldn't match their energy. They were very impressive. Kudos to them."

This season was the final year of joint Tyrone managers Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan's three-year term. Canavan would like to see the pair who led Tyrone to the 2021 All-Ireland title remain in charge.

"They'll always have the backing of the players," Canavan says.

"We'll respect their decision. If they want to stay on for another three years, that's good too."

See Also: Conor Whelan's Kilkenny Vs Limerick All-Ireland Hurling Final Verdict



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