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One Phase Of His GAA Career Over, Sean Cavanagh Is Loving The Next

One Phase Of His GAA Career Over, Sean Cavanagh Is Loving The Next
By PJ Browne

It was twenty to ten on Tuesday night when it began to hit home for Sean Cavanagh that he's no longer an inter-county footballer. His brother Colm - the two live close - had just pulled into his driveway with his gear bag in the car.

"You'd know that the Tuesday night session is the last tough session before the Championship game," Cavanagh told Balls at the launch of Electric Ireland’s ‘This is Major’ campaign.

"I think it's starting to creep in now. That moment where I saw Colm last night was, yeah, I knew it was going to be a tough next few days. I think Sunday morning it will really hit me when I'm getting up and thinking of every player getting up with the adrenalin properly flowing."

The last time Cavanagh sat in the stands as a fan was back in 2001 when Tyrone faced Derry in an All-Ireland quarter-final. He will be there again - this time in Healy Park on Sunday - when Tyrone play Monaghan in their Ulster quarter-final.

"I printed the tickets out online yesterday. I have the season tickets. First time ever coming up to a game that there's a seating plan in Healy Park. I've been playing there for 20 years and never realised there was a seating plan.

"I was checking out where the seats are and they're crap seats. It is a strange one, printing Tyrone tickets out. Something that I've never had to do, before there were no online print-outs.

"Yeah, it's going to be tough. Sunday will be tough. I know rightly on the way up to the match on Sunday that I'll be thinking what are the guys doing now?

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"When you've been in it and you know what's involved and how special it is, it'll be hard to be on the other side of it. But, c'est la vie.

"I think the toughest part, even when I was injured during the years, the toughest part is frustration and not being able to do anything about it.

"When you're a player for as long as I've been that control thing where you know it's great to be able to say even if it's your fault and you've done something wrong, but it's you.

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"Watching on Sunday and it's someone else I'm sure the frustration will start to come out. I'm the world's worst spectator anyway."

The three-time All-Ireland winner's engagement with the inter-county game is not solely as a fan - he's also working as an analyst with RTÉ. It's a role he enjoys - he loves going into detail.

Now wearing a shirt and tie for games rather than a Tyrone jersey, Cavanagh is conscious about how media criticism can affect a player.

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When Joe Brolly said that, "You can forget about Sean Cavanagh as far as he's a man," back in 2013, it didn't just have ramifications for Sean Cavanagh the footballer, they were also felt by Sean Cavanagh the accountant.

Still, the 35-year-old knows he has a job to do.

It's strange in that I'm very sensitive of not offending people because I've watched that programme so many times over the years and sat there and thought that 'So and so is out to get us. There's an agenda there, they don't like us', et cetera.

As a player you are convinced that's the case. Now you're sitting on the other side of it and you're thinking it's my job now to call out things that maybe people don't want to be called out.

I don't want to make it personal, I'm very sensitive to the fact that players are amateur. It does affect their lives. They're sitting there on Sunday night and to hear someone running them on or even sometimes running the team down, it puts you in bad form.

It does impact on your week, for sure. But, look, I just have to...my motto is to be as true and honest as I possibly can without going over the top with anything. I'll stick to that and see how it runs.

In his analysis, Cavanagh will lean on the experience he accumulated in 15 years as an inter-county player. When he looks at this Mayo team, he sees similarities between them and his Tyrone side of the 2000s when their powers were in decline. It's why he thinks there will be outages in the Mayo network.

"The beauty of that is I can probably go a little bit harder on him than anyone else because he’s used to it," jokes Cavanagh when asked if he'll find it strange having the analyse games featuring his own brother.

"I don’t think I’ll have any problem being objective when I need to be. That’s what the job demands - when there’s something there to be called out...

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"I don’t have any agenda or won’t have any agenda. That’s what annoys the audience: watching on and maybe seeing people that do have a specific agenda and are trying to push conversation down a certain direction; I don’t want to be like that and I hope I never become like that."

Four major GAA legends, Sean Cavanagh, Ollie Canning, Michael Fennelly and Daniel Goulding, have teamed up to form the Electric Ireland Minor Star Awards judging panel to shortlist Minor Player of the Week nominations for both hurling and football throughout the Championship. These Minor players will then go forward to be considered for inclusion on the Minor Hurling and Football teams of the Year which will be unveiled at the Electric Ireland Minor Star Awards in Croke Park in October. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

See Also: Friendship Is The Great Strength Of The Wexford Hurlers

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