‘Why did you not go for goal?’
Sean Cavanagh has revealed he has regrets over aspects of his performance in the 2008 All-Ireland final, despite winning a third All-Ireland title and earning the man of the match award.
Tyrone ran out 1-15 to 0-14 winners to regain the Sam Maguire Cup and beat Kerry in another final, having done the same in 2005.
Cavanagh ended up scoring 0-5 in the 2008 final in what would end up earning him his last All-Ireland medal.
Despite his impressive tally, the 2008 Footballer of the Year has regrets over not going for goal during the game, instead opting to fist the ball over the bar.
“It just worked, it just clicked, every ball I kicked seemed to fly over the bar at a ridiculous pace. It just was one of those days I could do no wrong, the less I seemed to put effort into things the more things seemed to happen.
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“As brilliant a day as that was – I picked up the man of the match award, we won our third All-Ireland, it was brilliant and euphoric – I found a chink in it all whereby I felt I had let myself down by not going for goal when I had the chance to score.
“A goal in the All-Ireland final, to be like Peter Canavan in 2005, to be like Paudge Quinn in 1986 or Seamus Darby for Offaly.
“I went to bed early that night in CityWest, lying listening to the cars on the N7.
“I remember looking at my phone, it might have been half three in the morning and I had been in bed from maybe 11 or 12, but I just couldn’t sleep because all I could think of was, ‘Why did you not go for goal?’.”
The 2003 Young Footballer of the Year’s relationship with Mickey Harte has been mixed since those three All-Ireland victories and he was left hurt after the release of his former manager’s book in 2009.
Harte believed the pressure was too much for Cavanagh saying ‘the roof simply caved in’ after the midfielder was forced to withdraw from that year’s game against Cork with a stomach bug.
“It was hurtful, it was something that didn’t feel at the time was probably right, factually foremost and also then in almost breaking that confidence between player and manager,” Cavanagh continued.
“It probably wasn’t then until February or March 2010 that Mickey came to my house and sat with myself and Fionnuala.
“He said the ghost writer had written that and it wasn’t him. He apologised for it. I suppose that was difficult for me to accept given the fact it was his book and it was a key headline and I was probably a key player for him at that point in time.
“I parked it and moved on as quickly as I could and got back and was playing good football.
“There are plenty of my friends and family that whenever they wanted to get in under my skin a little bit there were a few chants of ‘the roof, the roof, the roof has caved in’ so there was a bit of craic had with it.”
Sean Cavanagh’s Laochra Gael is on TG4 next Thursday night at 9.30pm.