THE long, painful goodbye was heart-breaking for Sean Cavanagh as he bade farewell to the Tyrone fans who have adored him for 16 years.
Cavanagh’s final appearance for the Red Hands ended in the 54th minute of a pulverising All-Ireland semi-final defeat to an awesome Dublin side.
Tears flowed, but one of the greatest players in the game soon found solace close to home as he clutched his young daughters Eva and Clara moments after David Coldrick’s final whistle brought an end to the agony.
Suffice to say this was no fitting end to a career that has gone some way to defining the modern game of Gaelic football.
It was somewhat inevitable that Jim Gavin’s treble-chasing machine 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 played his own heroic role in the history of a county that had achieved nothing before his carer kicked off back in 2003.
Three All-Irelands and five All-Stars later, Cavanagh is richly deserving of all the plaudits and adulation that have and will continue to flow his way until the game and its loyal followers finally accept that he will no more be seen in the famous Red hand colours.
“I’m trying to not make it emotional, but it was 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. 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 and I’ve had an amazing journey. I’ve been very successful in so many ways. But time has come to pass the baton on to a fantastic group of lads.”
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 rocket 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 couldn’t 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.”
The Moy man conceded he had been blown away by the quality and power of the team that handed out a 12 points mauling to the Red Hands.
“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 to be part of an era when a team of that magnitude has dominated the sport.
“It was evident today. I can’t understand just how far ahead of everyone they are. I didn’t 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.”
Posted: 10:12 am August 29, 2017