Mattie Donnelly hints that Sean Cavanagh's Tyrone career may not be over just yet
Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly has urged his captain Sean Cavanagh to come back for another tilt at an All-Ireland in 2017.
The week after their defeat to Mayo in the quarter-final, Mickey Harte gathered his players in to sign off on the 2016 season, which produced an Ulster title for the first time in six years. Cavanagh was present for the debriefing and Donnelly expects to see him back along with fellow veterans Joe and Justin McMahon.
"They said publicly they are going to take their time over it," explained Donnelly, "but I would say they will be present at the next meeting too when the 2017 squad is meeting. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't be."
For all three the season ended on a flat note personally with defeat to Mayo. Cavanagh was dismissed after two yellow cards - the first questionable as he became embroiled in a flare-up as he made his way onto the field after half-time. Joe McMahon has played little football over the last two seasons as he battles with various injuries, while Justin was substituted in the first half as a tactical switch. 2015 All-Star Donnelly believes the potential within the current squad is a temptation.
"A lot is made of age and miles on the clock. But boys like Sean and Joe and Justin don't really operate in terms of years, they just think of winning," he said.
"That's what will make their decision up; if they think there is something there to be done, those boys can contribute. I would say they are going to stay on and they are well fit for it."
Cavanagh is the last remaining link to the 2003 All-Ireland-winning team. Having made his debut in 2002, his International Rules team-mate Donnelly believes there would be no physical or form-based argument against him playing a sixteenth consecutive season at inter-county level.