Colm Cavanagh wary of idle April

With his club season curtailing his involvement in the early rounds of the Allianz Football League, Colm Cavanagh is sceptical about the chances of being marked absent from county duties come April.

The month that Croke Park has ring-fenced for clubs might be a good idea in theory, but with the Tyrone All Star one of several hundred inter-county players still to finish their club seasons, he appreciates the difficulty.

“There’s always going to be that struggle, because the season doesn’t finish in the one calendar year, so for club teams that are successful, it doesn’t leave much of a break for that (having April off).

“It probably would be nice to have it finish in the one calendar year, but you have to understand there’s a lot of things to consider and it’s not easy to get the right fix.”

Asked how Mickey Harte will handle the proposed changes, Cavanagh smiled: “I’m not sure, I suppose every club and county will be different and everyone has their own priorities.

“It will be an interesting month to see how things are juggled.

“Taking a month off with county at that stage... it’s not long until championship starts, so I think that will be difficult.

“It will differ for every county and how that works going forward is yet to be seen.

“It will be something they’ll have to look at and tweak going forward, but from a personal point of view, this is the first year we’ve had this problem.

“I’ve been training since November 2016 without a break, bar Christmas, so it is a strange situation for me personally, but I’m still enjoying things.”

Cavanagh’s club Moy play An Ghaeltacht in Sunday’s rearranged All-Ireland Intermediate club football semi-final in Thurles, after last week’s game in Portlaoise was postponed.

When the club journey is over, it will be back to Tyrone and, after the retirement of his big brother, Sean, as well as Joe and Justin McMahon, it will leave Cavanagh as the old man of the team.

“I had a conversation with Mickey before Christmas and he gave me the freedom to train with Moy over the winter and it has been nice to have that change. It’s not as pressurised as the county set-up, though it’s in the back of your mind that once you go back to the county, you have an awful long way to go to catch up again, especially when you come to my age.”

A warrior on the field, Cavanagh’s bravery and abrasive style of play has earned him as many hard hits as admirers.

He gets beat up a lot in almost every game and, while advancing years have brought more awareness of the risks, it’s not something he dwells on for long.

“When that ball is in play, you go for it, and worry about the consequences afterwards. That’s the nature of the game. That is the style of play, I suppose, that I’ve always went for.

“The lads would tell you I get them more than most, because of the way I play, but it’s part and parcel of the game and of playing a contact sport.

“You’ve been used to it, because you’ve been playing it all your life, but it’s only as you get older you think ‘this might have long-term effects’.

“The lads have a lot more awareness of concussion now and long-term health and it’s only as you get older and realise that your county career isn’t going to go on forever, but guys are well looked after behind the scenes.”

Antrim begin their Allianz Hurling League Division 1B campaign away to holders Galway at Pearse Stadium, while Tyrone will face Galway at Tuam Stadium in the opening round of Division 1 of the Allianz Football League on Sunday.
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