Wednesday 20 September 2017

Kavanagh revelling in return to his roots after taste of life in Big Apple

Brian Kavanagh leads his team-mates out the tunnel at Dr. Cullen Park on Sunday
Brian Kavanagh leads his team-mates out the tunnel at Dr. Cullen Park on Sunday
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

LONGFORD sharpshooter Brian Kavanagh insists his break from inter-county football has reignited his desire ahead of the 2014 season.

The 27-year-old made his return to Longford colours in last Sunday's O'Byrne Cup win over Carlow, having spent 15 months abroad.

Kavanagh last played for the midlanders in their round two qualifier defeat to Limerick in 2012 before taking a career break to live in Manhattan.

The primary school teacher worked in a bar in New York along with Armagh's Jamie Clarke, who was in the Big Apple playing with the 'Leitrim' club.

But Kilmacud Crokes clubman Kavanagh stepped almost completely away from football, playing only Junior B Stateside for 'Longford'.

"I didn't play much football over there," he says. "I went over to a few lads who were involved with 'Longford' and they were short a few players, so I said I'd stay with them, and we won the championship.

"A lot of lads came over last summer. I helped train Jamie Clarke in bar-work. Gareth Bradshaw from Galway and Kevin Meaney from Laois were over there playing football too.

"But I stayed away from that, and played in our games, which were generally on a Thursday night, and basically took a break from football -- and it was great.

"I knew I'd come back at some stage. I watched a couple of the Longford games on TV last year and it was hard looking on and not being a part of it, so I'm looking forward to getting into the season ahead."

Kavanagh resumed teaching duties in St Olaf's in Dundrum last September and was straight back into action with Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin SFC.

"I could have stayed on in New York -- the opportunity was there," Kavanagh says.

"But I felt the time was right. I came back and was straight into the action with Crokes, but I was way off the pace. We were a bit unlucky against Ballyboden. Paul Mannion was injured and so was Rory O'Carroll -- I felt that had we another couple of weeks, we would have improved.

"After that we got into training with Longford and I really enjoyed the work we did in pre-season and I felt fresh doing it, maybe fresher than some of the lads who have done the last seven or eight years straight through."

Kavanagh, who originally played for the Ardagh club in Longford, looked to have lost none of his sparkle last weekend as he helped himself to 0-5, 0-4 of which came from play as his county swatted aside the challenge of Anthony Rainbow's Barrowsiders.

"It's certainly a very different Longford team to the one I left," he says. "I only played championship football with two of the lads who started the game against Carlow -- Jack (Sheedy) has come in and he's giving some new faces their chance.

"Those lads are certainly very enthusiastic and that helps the other lads around so it's a good set-up. Jack is understanding of the lads who are based in Dublin and we can do some training up here and then come down to Longford on other nights, so I think it works out for everyone."

Ahead of a campaign in Division 3 and a Leinster championship opener against Offaly on May 18, Longford face a step up in class tonight when they face Jason Ryan's Kildare in Newtowncashel.

"It was good to get off to a win for the year but this will probably be a much stiffer test. It's another chance for fellas to show what they can do. That's what this time of year is all about," says Kavanagh.

Irish Independent

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