Seán Cavanagh

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Seán Cavanagh
Personal information
Irish name Seán Ó Caomhánach
Sport Gaelic Football
Position Midfield/Full-Forward
Born (1983-02-16) 16 February 1983 (age 37)
Omagh, Northern Ireland
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Occupation Director, Sean Cavanagh & Co
Years Club
Moy Tír Na nÓg
Years County
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 6
All-Irelands 3
All Stars 5

Seán Cavanagh (born 16 February 1983) is a former five-time All Star-winning Tyrone Gaelic footballer. He has won All-Ireland Championships for Tyrone at Minor level and three times at Senior level, and has captained Ireland in the International Rules Series.

His playing style is very attack-minded, considering he is usually deployed as a midfielder like the doc himself, and he usually ends up scoring more than most of the forwards on the team. This is complemented on the team by Brian Dooher's tireless workrate from the half-forward line – something he is the first to admit.[1] 2008 was his most illustrious year as an individual. He won his third All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, captained Ireland to victory in the International Rules Series, and then won his fourth All Star award as well as Player of the Year.

His brother Colm Cavanagh is also a current member of the Tyrone panel.[2]


Cavanagh graduated from the University of Ulster in 2004 with a First Class Honours Degree in Accountancy.[3] He has since gone on to follow a career in accountancy.

Playing career[edit]


Cavanagh was an integral part of the Tyrone Minor Team that won the All-Ireland Minor Championship in 2001,.[4] He also won two Ulster Minor Championships with the county.[5] He went on to win two Ulster Under 21 Championships in 2002 and 2003.[citation needed]

He was also enormously successful as school level, winning the Ulster Colleges Championship, the MacRory Cup[5] in 2000, with Saint Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh, earning himself an Ulster Colleges All Star along the way, having scored the decisive goal in the final.


Cavanagh made his Tyrone Senior debut in 2002, against neighbouring rivals, and eventual All Ireland Champions, Armagh scoring a goal which earned Tyrone a replay.[6] He was also a member of the squad that won Tyrone's first ever National League title.[5]

Tyrone defended the National League in 2003.[5] That year he was pivotal in Tyrone's quest to their first ever All-Ireland Championship. He was voted Man-of-the-Match in their first round replay against Derry.[7] He returned from injury to appear in the drawn Ulster Final against Down, and scored a point in the replay while commanding midfield.[8] In the All-Ireland Quarter final (the next round), Tyrone beat neighbours Fermanagh 1–21 (24 points) to 0–05. Cavanagh again led by example from midfield, and scored Tyrone's goal.[9] Tyrone went on to win the All-Ireland and the year ended with Cavanagh winning his first All Star, at the age of twenty, as well as the Young Player of the Year Award.[10]

Tyrone's 2004 campaign was foreshadowed by the untimely death of their newly appointed captain, Cormac McAnallen. Tyrone were ultimately knocked out of the Championship by eventual finalists, Mayo. Cavanagh won Tyrone's only All Star that year.

In 2005, Cavanagh scored twelve points from midfield over the course of the championship. There was speculation as to whether he would emigrate to Australia to join a professional AFL team, (Brisbane Lions), as Tadhg Kennelly had successfully done a few years prior.[11] However, he declined offers of a contract with Brisbane Lions, saying that he wanted to stay in Ireland and further both his football career and his career as an accountant. He claims that when he travelled to play Australia in 2005, he saw that Australia was a "great" place, but not somewhere he would be happy to settle.[12][13]

In the All-Ireland Semi-final, Tyrone played Armagh for the third time in the Championship. With only a few minutes left, and Tyrone two points down, Cavanagh stepped up and embarked on a surging solo run, and dropping the ball over the bar for a point, inspiring Tyrone to go on to win the match.[14]
Cavanagh was again awarded an All-Star, his third in a row – the only Ulsterman to do that apart from Peter Canavan in the mid 90's, and the first midfielder to do it since Jack O'Shea in the early 80's.

Tyrone's 2006 campaign was plagued by injury from the start, and they were disappointingly knocked out of the championship by Laois. The early exit allowed players to take up 'ringer' positions in American GAA leagues and Cavanagh was one of the players that took up the offer.[15]

In the 2007 Championship, Cavanagh struck up an effective midfield partnership with Kevin Hughes, and has undertaken some free kick duties in the absence of Tyrone's regular free-takes due to injury. He won his second[5] Ulster Championship in July, when he scored four points in the Ulster Final. In the All-Ireland quarter final, Cavanagh scored a spectacular solo-effort goal against Meath, but was unable to inspire Tyrone to victory and they crashed out of the Championship. Colm O'Rourke, RTÉ Sport's pundit, remarked about how Cavanagh was able to run faster while controlling the ball, than some players running after him.[16]

In the 2008 Championship, Cavanagh picked up his third All-Ireland winners' medal after Tyrone triumphed against Kerry on 21 September 2008. After the game he was named RTÉ Man of the Match for his five-point contribution.

In the 2009 Championship,

In the 2010 Championship,

In the 2011 Championship,

In the 2012 Championship,

In the 2013 Championship, Joe Brolly subjected Cavanagh to a ferocious on-air tirade after he received the man of the match award for helping Tyrone to an All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Monaghan at Croke Park.[17][18] Mayo put paid to Tyrone's All-Ireland hopes in the semi-final.[19] Cavanagh still ended the year with his fifth All Star.

Ahead of 2014, he was named Tyrone captain, succeeding Stephen O'Neill.[20][21]


Cavanagh has represented Ireland several times in the International Rules Series, and was chosen to play for them for the unsuccessful 2005 and 2006 campaigns.[22] In 2008, Cavanagh was named as the captain of the Ireland team, leading them on to win the series, with 27 of Ireland's total of 102 points.[23]

Gaelic Players Association controversy[edit]

In February 2007, the Tyrone County Board issued a statement criticising the actions and ideals of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), and urged the GAA in an open letter to not give the GPA officially recognised status. This put the Tyrone players into a difficult situation, as many were active members of the organisation. One of the main opponents of the county board's position was Seán Cavanagh, and has since gone on record defending the actions of the GPA, and criticising those of the board, stating, "they were not speaking for me or the Tyrone footballers, or the majority of GAA people in this county."[24][25] Cavanagh is one of the more visible proponents of the GPA, often starring in advertising campaigns for GPA affiliates, such as Club Energize.




  1. ^ "Tyrone's trojan is not a talker, he's a Dooher". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2007.
  2. ^ "Tyrone shine under lights". Retrieved 14 March 2008.
  3. ^ "Sean Cavanagh – A First Class Finisher". Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  4. ^ "Tyrone win minor title". BBC News. 29 September 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e "cul4kidz profile on Cavanagh". Cul4kidz website. September 2008. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Cavanagh is Tyrone's saviour". BBC News. 19 May 2002. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  7. ^ "Tyrone outclass dismal Derry". BBC News. 24 May 2003. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  8. ^ "Down overwhelmed by Tyrone side on fire – 20/07/03".
  9. ^ "GAA: All-Ireland Quarter Final – Fermanagh 0-05 Tyrone 1–21". Archived from the original on 22 October 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  10. ^ "Tyrone's magnificent seven". BBC News. 28 November 2003. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  11. ^ "Cavanagh offered two-year deal by Brisbane". Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  12. ^ Sunday Tribune, 5 November 2006, Page 35
  13. ^ "C avanagh rejects Brisbane offer". BBC News. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  14. ^ "Tyrone to meet Kerry in GAA football final". Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  15. ^ "Tyrone Players head for USA". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  16. ^ Said during the live RTÉ Sunday Game Live coverage of the All-Ireland quarter-final. Meath v Tyrone – 4 August 2007
  17. ^ "Joe Brolly in astonishing outburst against 'absolutely rotten' Tyrone". The Score. 3 August 2013. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  18. ^ Kelly, David; Boyle, Donnachadh (5 August 2013). "Did Joe Brolly go too far in criticising Sean Cavanagh?". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Mayo 1–16 Tyrone 0–13". RTÉ Sport. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  20. ^ "Cavanagh to skipper Tyrone as McConnell retires". Hogan Stand. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Sean Cavanagh takes over as captain of Tyrone". BBC Sport. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  22. ^ "COCA-COLA INTERNATIONAL RULES 1ST TEST". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  23. ^ "Ireland clinch series win at MCG". BBC Sport. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  24. ^ "Steps are taken to heal GPS rift". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  25. ^ "Tyrone letter leads to GPA anger". BBC News. 16 February 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marc Ó Sé
All Stars Footballer of the Year
Succeeded by
Paul Galvin