Love him or loathe him, Seán Cavanagh is an unapologetic thorn in the side. As well as being a supremely gifted footballer, he is also crown prince of the ‘dark arts’ and it was a concoction of these two personas that powered Moy Tír na nÓg over the line against a shell-shocked Michael Glavey’s in Croke Park last Saturday afternoon.
As Conor Hussey alluded to in his post-match comments, headquarters can be a cold and brutal place for Roscommon teams even at the height of summer. Cavanagh himself could tell you that. He pounded the turf last Saturday as if trying to sweat the memory of last August’s demolition at the hands of the Dubs from every fibre of his being. He controlled the game at times…in more ways than one.
Referee Brendan Cawley was swayed by the Tyrone legend’s presence and Caoileann Fitzmaurice was ordered to take a long, lonely walk back to the dressing room. It was a harsh lesson but one Caoileann will do well to learn in order to compete with the Cavanaghs of this world.
It would be harsh to describe Moy’s victory as ‘typical Tyrone’; their first half performance was full of direct, attacking vigour after all. However, once on top they bullied and harassed and staggered Glavey’s’ attempts to play their way back into contention. Calls went their way and so did the hop of the ball on a couple of occasions.
Therefore, Glavey’s second half resistance was all the more remarkable. The mighty men from west Roscommon left it all out on the hallowed turf as they scraped and clawed some respectability onto the hi-tech scoreboard. Andy Glennon was immense but he had an indefatigable support cast and the backing of hundreds of dreamers in the stands.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to cause more Croker heartbreak for Cavanagh and Co. but pride had been well and truly restored following a first half to forget.
Maybe Conor Hussey’s right, maybe there is something in the water in west Roscommon and teams from this neck of woods struggle on the big stage. Maybe. One thing is for sure though; Glavey’s showed plenty of bottle when all seemed hopelessly lost last Saturday.