Striker Kavanagh, then with the baggage of crime and addictions to surmount to try to get his football career back on track, was the player of this tournament’s inaugural staging back in 2011.
Signed on his return by St Patrick’s Athletic, Kavanagh proved his potential, making the PFAI team of the year at the end of that season.
That earned a move to reigning champions Shamrock Rovers before a return to St Pat’s — after a spell at Cork City — brought a league title winner’s medal in 2013.
But last season is best forgotten as he played little at St Pat’s before a move to Sligo Rovers in July never worked out.
“It was great at the time to get the opportunity and I took it. I got a good contract with Pats,” recalled Kavanagh of Oslo four years ago.
“I’ve done well and been at big clubs. And I feel I can still play with the big clubs in the league and that’s my aim for this year,” he adds before assessing a 2014 that didn’t go quite so well.
“Last year I wasn’t really getting in at Pat’s as Liam (Buckley) didn’t have me in his plans. It wasn’t to be.
“I went to Sligo, but I lost interest and went away to America on holiday for three months just to get a break away from it. Maybe just to find myself.
“I picked up a knock and my head went. It was the break I needed because I wanted to come back this season, (though) I’m not 100% sure do I want to play in the league. I have to see if it’s worth my while as well.”
Kavanagh insists the Vallhall Arena today is far from his last chance saloon. “I’m only 28, so I still feel I have a good chance of playing at a good club in the league. I don’t want to look back with any regrets that I’d given it up too soon. I’m getting fit and working hard off the field. These games will stand to me as there is good competition here, as I know from the last time. I know when I’m 100% I can play in any team in the league. I have to get fit and right. We’ll see what happens. One or two clubs have been on to me. But I think it’s early yet. I just want to work on myself first. If the right offer comes in, maybe I’ll take it.”
All of the 16-strong squad will be given a fair chance to impress watching scouts in their two shortened (one hour) games today.