Sunday 24 September 2017

'It's something that frightens me' - Sean Cavanagh says players will regret sacrificing careers for GAA

Sean Cavanagh leads the Tyrone team out
Sean Cavanagh leads the Tyrone team out

Michael Verney

The rise and rise of inter-county players choosing to study teaching for the convenience of maintaining their county careers "frightens" Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh and he believes it's a "worrying trend" which needs to be addressed.

Cavanagh announced earlier this year that 2017 will be his final inter-county season with the Red Hand, and the 34-year-old has already prepared for life after football by setting up his own accountancy firm.

Such a move is a rarity among inter-county players; Waterford hurling boss Derek McGrath raised some eyebrows when he announced earlier this year that he took a sabbatical from his teaching post to concentrate on managing the Déise, also revealing that he has 14 teachers on his panel.

County stars who are not students or teachers are becoming a scarce commodity, and the Tyrone skipper feels many players are "losing perspective on their careers", instead putting their inter-county days first.

U-21 footballers Cillian O’Shea of Dublin and Michael Daly of Galway with Paraic Duffy, GAA Director General, Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh and Rosemary Steen, Director of External Affairs, EirGrid, ahead of the EirGrid U21 All-Ireland final which will take place tomorrow in O’Connor Park, Tullamore. Photo: Iain White Fennell Photography
U-21 footballers Cillian O’Shea of Dublin and Michael Daly of Galway with Paraic Duffy, GAA Director General, Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh and Rosemary Steen, Director of External Affairs, EirGrid, ahead of the EirGrid U21 All-Ireland final which will take place tomorrow in O’Connor Park, Tullamore. Photo: Iain White Fennell Photography

"It's something that has frightened me over the last few years. I have met guys who are very talented footballers but also talented in terms of their careers. And I have seen guys who have made decisions to postpone their professional careers," he said.

"I have seen lads opt to job-share in teaching roles and others who have opted to go into teaching rather than their first love, just because teaching may be more agreeable to playing Gaelic football. It's a worrying trend in my eyes.

"Some guys will live to regret that in the future. Everyone likes the idea of being able to train professionally and seeks the hours to be able to do that. I always had the view that you can only train hard for a certain amount of hours.

"I have always been able to enjoy working hard from nine to five or nine to six and really focus my energies there, and then take that energy to go out and play Gaelic football, to clear my head and re-energise myself for the next day.

"It's a worrying trend that a lot of guys in the GAA are foregoing. It's something the GAA need to look at as we can't have 90pc of inter-county players as teachers. It's almost at a tipping point."

Inter-county retirement seems "scary" to him and he hopes to replace that "energy and zest" of playing football with his career, something he gets a "kick out of", while he encourages inter-county players not to sell themselves short off the pitch.

I quickly realised that there is an awful lot of good people in the business world as well as the GAA. There is a lot of overlap in business life and GAA life that would be similar, all part of that family.

"It's going to be a busy few months, the Championship season is going to be very hectic. Time management just becomes essential and if you want to do something, I always believe you will always find the energy from somewhere."

Elsewhere, Dessie Farrell has made one change for Dublin's EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 final with Galway tomorrow in O'Connor Park (5.0) as Declan Monaghan replaces Darren Gavin at half-back.

Dublin (U-21F v Galway): E Comerford; D Byrne, C O'Shea, E Murchan; D Monaghan, S McMahon, C Murphy; A Foley, B Howard; T Fox, A Byrne, G O'Reilly; C Basquel, C O'Callaghan, D O'Brien.

Irish Independent

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