Tyrone star Colm Cavanagh retires from inter-county football

His last game for Tyrone was their League victory over All-Ireland champions Dublin at Healy Park last February
Tyrone star Colm Cavanagh retires from inter-county football

Colm Cavanagh with his daughter Chloe after Tyrone's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kerry in August 2019. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tyrone midfielder Colm Cavanagh has retired from inter-county football ahead of the 2020 All-Ireland Championship.

After much speculation, the two-time All-Star had committed for a 14th season this year but with inter-county activity suspended until the resumption of collective training last week, Cavanagh decided now was the time to hand on the jersey. 

His last game for Tyrone was their League victory over All-Ireland champions Dublin at Healy Park last February.

"2020 has taught us a lot," Cavanagh, 33, wrote on Twitter. "For me, it has confirmed that your health is indeed your wealth and with that, it is time for me to step back and pass my Tyrone jersey on to the next in line.

"I am very proud and honoured to have worn the Tyrone jersey for as long as I have and have had some of the best days of my life whilst wearing it.

"I wish the current and future teams the very best of luck in the seasons ahead and I have no doubt they will be raising silverware together for many years to come.

"I will always value the friendships I have made along the way and now I look forward to supporting and encouraging my children if they decide to become involved in GAA sports in the future.

"The biggest thank you has to go to the people of Tyrone and all supporters of Tyrone GAA, your support and encouragement has kept us going through some of the toughest times as a county and for that I am forever grateful. Thanks for everything."

Cavanagh made his Tyrone debut in 2007 and won the All-Ireland the following year, coming on as a late substitute in the final.

He received much acclaim for his all-action sweeper role for Tyrone in recent years, winning All-Stars in 2017 and 2018.

He also won five Ulster Senior titles and an All-Ireland Minor title in 2004.

Cavanagh led his club, Moy, alongside his brother Seán, to the All-Ireland Intermediate Club title in 2018, winning the man of the match award in the final.

"[The decision] was a really tough one, one that I've debated for the last few months. I went back and forward on it but the season is starting to come back in now and I had to make a choice," he told RTÉ 2FM's Game On.

"I felt now was the right time to do that and it's one of those things, a good journey comes to an end.

"I was getting to the stage where the body was breaking down. I always said to myself whenever my body starts to respond badly and things start getting difficult, it's the right time to do it.

"There's a great bunch of lads there that can step in and do a better job. That's what it's all about, getting the county to where it needs to be."

He spoke about comparisons with Seán, who swept the boards for team and individual awards early in his career, against the satisfaction Colm got when such accolades came his way in his thirties.

"Things came my way a wee bit later in my career and I hold them close. You don't play sport for personal awards but you do appreciate things like that when they come at that stage of your career.

"We probably had a rough enough few years and people saying 'You're only there because of your brother' and whatnot, so whenever those things happened in the later stages of my career I sat back and appreciated them."

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