If ever there was a chip off the old block, Donegal minor footballer Nathan Gavigan fits the bill, writes Tom Comack.
Nathan is the son of Martin ‘Rambo’ Gavigan, Donegal’s 1992, All-Ireland winning centre-half back. Like his All-Ireland winning father, Nathan is a big powerful and athletic young man.
Standing at well over six foot, he is blessed with good hands, a great work ethic and he’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves when required. The young Sean MacCumhaill’s man has all the attributes of a class midfielder who has a preference more for defending than attacking.
Although he’s 18-years-old, Nathan, is one of the new faces on this year’s Donegal team. “I was there or thereabouts last year,” he says.
“But I just picked up a few injuries at the wrong time and didn’t make the cut.”
Nathan, who has starred for Donegal at U-16 and U-17 level in recent seasons, added: “Last year, just wasn’t a great year for me.”
After watching Donegal’s triumphant run through Ulster and all the way to the All-Ireland final from the sidelines, Nathan ,was determined to make the cut in 2015.
“Once I shook off the injuries and got back into training, my main aim was to make this season’s minor team and to make the Freshers team at college.” Nathan is a first year student at DCU in Dublin.
“The boys did very well last year and it is a matter now of picking up where they left off. Hopefully, we can take it one step further this year.”
Nathan, who has built up quite a reputation for himself at underage with club and county, was no stranger to the squad when he joined it late last year. “I knew all the lads from playing with them before at U-16 and U-17,” he said.
“They are a great bunch and it is an exciting team to be playing with. There is a great air of positivity around the squad.
“It is the most professional set up I have ever played with. Declan (Bonner) has really raised the bar in terms of preparation and organisation and we are very well looked after. Every aspect of the game is covered and analysed by the backroom team and it’s a really very professional set-up.”
The retention of the Ulster Minor League in a campaign that saw Donegal run up big winning margins has not turned the young midfielder’s head either.
“We had a very good minor league campaign, but we are trying not to get too carried away with winning the league,” he said. “It’s in the past and it’s all about the championship now.
“Championship football is completely different. It’s knock-out football and if you don’t perform on the day, you are out. The focus now is on Tyrone and I know we beat Tyrone and beat them well in the league. But we know it will be a different Tyrone that we will face now in the championship.”
And what about that famous dad Martin ‘Rambo’ Gavigan, does he offer young Nathan any advice? “All he tells me is to go out and play my best every single game and to put in good hits, work hard and let the football flow.”