Kavanagh set to find his feet at Rovers after Fulham pain
Three years ago this weekend, Sean Kavanagh was in the midst of a Championship double-header.
Life was good. The Belvedere graduate had broken into the first team at Fulham, and would break the 20 appearance mark in his debut campaign.
Felix Magath had given him the nod initially, but it was his replacement Kit Symons who really gave Kavanagh an opportunity. at left-back He also offered him a lucrative contract that would tie him down to the club until the summer of 2018.
Things change quickly at Fulham, though. Symons was shown the door in November 2015, while Kavanagh fell out of favour completely and had added only loan spells at Hartlepool and Mansfield to his CV before agreeing a severance package with the Cottagers months before that big contract expired.
His new manager, Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley, said that arrangement involved a sacrifice.
"I could tell you that the financial aspect is unbelievable - what he left behind," said Bradley after Kavanagh came off the bench for a debut in a scoreless draw with Dundalk. "That tells you what he's about. He just wants to play football."
There's a League of Ireland double header this weekend too, which means Kavanagh comes into contention for tonight's visit of Bray Wanderers to Tallaght.
He had been training with Derry City before signing for the Hoops, a decision that angered Kenny Shiels. Kavanagh said the draw of playing in his native Dublin made it an easy decision.
More than anything, he just wants to get his career back on track, although the fact he has signed a one-year deal means his options are open.
"I think the football here will suit me rather than trying to hang around the lower leagues in England, but we'll see how it goes," says Kavanagh, who is versatile enough to operate in a number of roles.
"The last couple of years was difficult and I was looking to get home here where I'm happy around my family and stuff like that. I'll just look to get back playing football and enjoy myself.
"I was doing well at one stage and then couldn't get near the team or the bench. As I say, that's football and you get ups and downs but hopefully I can build on something here."
Kavanagh spoke to Rovers U15 manager Damien Duff - an old Fulham colleague - about his options.
"I've known him a couple of years and I trust his opinion. After I spoke to him it was kind of a no-brainer," Kavanagh continued.
"Anyone that I've spoken to who came home (to the League of Ireland) has spoken highly about it. I knew a couple of lads here and a couple of lads at Dundalk and I spoke to a couple of lads I knew from the Ireland underage groups and they recommended it."
Rovers could do with an injection of quality as they go in search of a first win of the campaign, although Bradley was happy with the defensive resolution in the Dundalk game.
However, both Bradley and Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny have acknowledged they cannot let Cork City slip out of sight with the champions having taken six points from six.
The Leesiders are on the road again tonight where they take on a Sligo Rovers side buoyed by a win over Derry on Friday.
John Caulfield's charges have enjoyed some interesting battles with Sligo in recent seasons and the Cork boss has done some shopping there too with star man Kieran Sadlier amongst the City contingent that travel to take on their former club.
"Sligo is a fantastic club with fantastic support and, over the last few years, they have always made it difficult for us," says Caulfield.
"They caused us lots of problems last year and they feel they can qualify for Europe this year, so we have no doubt that it will be difficult."