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Kavanagh aiming to bring the curtain down 'on a high'

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Rory Kavanagh admits it was his own fault he temporarily lost his place in the Donegal team after being sent off in the league final. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Rory Kavanagh admits it was his own fault he temporarily lost his place in the Donegal team after being sent off in the league final. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Rory Kavanagh admits it was his own fault he temporarily lost his place in the Donegal team after being sent off in the league final. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Donegal's Rory Kavanagh has dropped a strong hint that the All-Ireland final against Kerry will be his last game for county.

Kavanagh, who was 32 last month, admitted he was one of those players who thought long and hard about returning for this season. But the manner of their defeat to Mayo convinced him to commit once again.

"I needed a little bit of a push in the off-season because I wasn't too sure," he admitted. "I had to just go away to talk to family and friends and see where I was at.

"We got together, we made our plans for the year and the general consensus was we didn't want to end it with what happened against Mayo. That was a big, big factor," he recalled.

"We looked a very tired team that day and we didn't want to be remembered by that game. So it was important that we came back and put our best foot forward this year and I think we've done that.

Character

"We wanted to show a bit of character and show what we were about. That was important to us."

Family commitments had set the St Eunan's man, who made his championship debut in 2002, thinking about retirement from inter-county football last year.

"It was family, really, with the baby. That was a big thing. I just had to go away and talk to my family and see what could be done. I've always had great support from all of them and I'm delighted to be back. It would be nice to try and go out on a high."

Kavanagh had a decent league campaign last spring as Donegal gained promotion from Division 2 of the league but a needless sending off for poking a water bottle into Monaghan's Darren Hughes set him back considerably as he was suspended for the Ulster quarter-final against Derry.

He was scrambling to regain his place all summer after that and only started for the first time in the championship against Dublin the last day.

"It was my own fault, really. I was sent off in the league final, which ruled me out of the first game," Kavanagh recalled.

"Then I picked up a wee niggling injury and that ruled me out of the other games in Ulster. I'm back now to full fitness though.

"It was hard. The talk about Donegal is that we only have 17 or 18 players but that's been pushed out to more than 20 players now.

"The boys who came in did very well and it was very hard for Jim (McGuinness) to overlook them again for the next round of the Championship. It's been a push to try and get back into the team."

Kavanagh feels the system Donegal have grown so accustomed to playing has created an understanding between players that is, he accepts, "a big, big strength of ours."

"We're well used to playing it now ourselves and every man knows what the other man is thinking.

"Against Dublin we had to tweak it a couple of times at midfield from a positional sense. On any given day you go out you have to make tweaks and you have to adapt. The framework is there for us and it's been tried and tested."

But there is room for improvement in challenging opposition kick-outs which is something they tried but failed to do sufficiently against Dublin.

"It's a big part of Dublin's game-plan and we struggled with them. Stephen Cluxton was getting ball away very quickly and making life difficult for us.

"Jim has a plan drawn up for every team we play. We go with what he has to say to us and we try to implement it. Sometimes it's easier said than done, mind you," he remarked.

Like his manager, Kavanagh admits playing Kerry is the 'dream' All-Ireland final for Donegal and he respects the abilities of Eamonn Fitzmaurice as a tactician.

"It doesn't get much better than that," he said. "They lead the way in terms of All-Irelands so it's definitely a dream one for us."

Irish Independent