Cavanagh fury at cheat jibes
Tyrone talisman stands his ground over accusations of conning ref in Farney clash
Published 19/06/2014 | 02:30
Another championship game against Monaghan and another storm for Sean Cavanagh to ride out.
When the Moy man hauled down Conor McManus in Croke Park last August, he made no secret that he was taking advantage of a loophole in the rules. If he didn't impress with his cynical tackle, his honesty afterwards won him some admirers.
After Sunday's Ulster championship defeat to the Farney, he was again at the centre of things. More sinned against than sinner on this occasion but still in unwanted limelight.
This time he was accused of conning the referee into awarding them late frees. In all, Cavanagh was involved in four controversial incidents as Tyrone came on a late charge.
Three times Monaghan players received censure with two black cards and a yellow while on another occasion, Cavanagh might have been black -carded himself for a pull.
Cavanagh flatly rejects the notion that he cheated, insisting that incidents replayed in slow motion can look a lot more deliberate than they were in real time, such as the one that saw Darren Hughes pick up a black card.
"It's annoying because last year it was intentional and I held my hands up and said, 'yeah, look, grand, I did it for the benefit of my team'.
"But the one on Sunday, it never even crossed my mind (to cheat). I remember getting the ball and driving towards goal and thinking, 'I'm going towards goal, if I can get a goal, great, if I can get a chance for a point, great'. But it was never an intention to try and win a free in the first place.
"I never actually knew it was a black card for Darren, I never even saw him going off. I was in that sort of mind frame just to get enough scores to get back into the game. So it never even crossed my mind for one moment and I genuinely never tried to pull him down.
"These things maybe look differently when you slow them down and I didn't know whether it was a black card or not. I knew at the time it was a free because I was going at speed and Darren came in from the side at speed. It's just disappointing that people make assumptions based on one thing that was slowed down to a millisecond of a frame.
"I don't feel it was warranted. Look, like anything in life, everybody has their opinions. Hopefully most GAA people will see it for what it is again."
Like last year, Joe Brolly led the criticism of Cavanagh and on this occasion he was backed up by Pat Spillane.
Some of it, he accepts, comes with the territory. Being the most recognisable member of a high-profile team brings both good and bad, but the high-profile nature of that criticism means that in the minds of the unanointed, Cavanagh feels he could be building up an image he doesn't deserve.
"Possibly, he's not someone that I would know very well," he replied when asked if he felt Brolly's criticism was personal.
"I would bump into most pundits somewhere along the line but I would never have really met Joe. I don't understand it.
"It didn't worry me after Sunday because, like last year, I was more worried and disappointed by the fact we lost the game.
"But in the days after it, your family and friends start telling you stories about people who aren't that clued in on GAA and are telling them that, yet again, I'm some bad boy of GAA that is always up to these sort of cheating tactics, or something.
"To me, it couldn't be further from the truth and that's what's disappointing." On the field, Cavanagh and Tyrone must refocus for the clash with Louth next weekend.
And after helping the county to All-Ireland success through the back door in 2008, Cavanagh is hoping for a similar bounce from last weekend's loss.
"Sometimes, as bad as it sounds, you need that to give you that kick up the back-side as such, just to get you refocused again and realise that you're not invincible and it changes your whole approach to the season.
"The qualifiers do give you that steeliness that you need sometimes because you know on any given day that you're gone. We have to get that approach back and we have to see if we can get on a bit of a run again."