No it’s not Rory McIlroy, but our own Rory Kavanagh, who made his own piece of history in 2012 with a record haul at county, provincial and national level.
Donegal footballers are this week living it up in the lavish surroundings of the IBN Gate Hotel in Dubai, and basking in the afterglow of the county’s most successful football season in two decades.
And as manager Jim McGuinness prepares to put the lid on the roller coaster that was 2012, both the boss and his players will reflect on a year in which Ulster was conquered for a second time back-to-back and the Sam Maguire Cup was recaptured after a 20 year break.
Both manager and players, too, will reflect on a host of individual awards, including eight All-Stars and Karl Lacey being named GAA/GPA Player of the Year; Colm McFadden, Ulster GAA Writers’ Player of the Year, and Patrick McBrearty, Ulster Writers’ Young Achiever of the Year. And of course there was the RTE team of the Year Award.
While an All-Star award eluded him, Donegal midfielder Rory Kavanagh, etched his name forever in Donegal GAA history, with his record winning haul of five major medals, in a never-to-be-forgotten season for the St. Eunan’s clubman.
Rory’s medal haul for 2012 reads as follows: All- Ireland senior, Ulster senior, Interprovincial (Railway Cup), Donegal Division One League and Donegal Senior Championship.
Impressive by any standard and something that has never been achieved before all in the one season by a Donegal footballer.
“It was something I did not realise until it was brought to my attention after we won the championship by my uncle Jimmy (Kavanagh). It never dawned on me at any time during the season. But now that I have achieved it, it is a pretty unique honour and one I am appreciating the more I think about it,” said Rory.
“We thought the Killybegs lads might have done it in ’92, but my dad was on to Brian McEniff, and Brian informed him that they hadn’t.
“So I guess it does mean that it is a unique one and is a nice record to have and while the All-Ireland was naturally the big one and the crowning glory, all the others were important too and equally cherished.
“I remember one evening early in the year, myself and Neil McGee were travelling up to Ulster training, and us both saying how much we would like to win a Railway Cup medal.
“And it was a great feeling when it happened a few weeks later with ironically Neil scoring a late goal to beat Munster in the final. It was great to be part of it along with Karl (Lacey) and Neil (McGee) and playing along with players from around the province. The Railway Cup may not be as big as it was in the past, but I’m certainly delighted to have played in the competition and to hold a winners’ medal.
“Winning with the club was important too. We have been in transition for a couple of years and brought in five or six young lads at the start of the year and had targeted to do well in the league.
“Unfortunately between injury and county commitments I only played five or six games in the league, but they did fine without me and were very consistent and had the league more or less wrapped up before the championship.
“I know the championship (club) came in for some criticism, but for me personally, it came as something of a relief and was an opportunity to get back playing with the club again.
“We may have ridden our luck in the championship, especially against Kilcar and again in the final against Naomh Conaill, but overall I think we were the most consistent and best team in the county in 2012 and probably deserved to win the championship.”
Whether or not St. Eunan’s deserved to claim the Dr. Maguire Cup for a 14th time is matter of debate, depending on which side of Meeniroy you reside.
But one thing is for sure, St. Eunan’s success brought down the curtain on fantastic season for St. Eunan’s midfield general Rory Kavanagh and a record that will take some beating.
And despite the fact he is facing into his 31st year and given the success achieved, he proclaims that he is up for the challenge of doing it all over again in 2013.
“I’m looking forward to 2013 and playing again. I’m still enjoying my football and I suppose I’m at that age where I realise I can’t go on forever and I just want to make the most of the time that is left.
“Jim’s (McGuinness) philosophy is that you must always strive to improve yourself and that is my aim for 2013.
“We are going into the third year of Jim’s term, and I feel I was a better player last year than I was the year before, and my aim is to be a better player again in 2013. And if I achieve that and the rest of the lads do likewise then hopefully we will have plenty to celebrate again this time next year.”
Roll on Tyrone, Cork, Kerry and the Dubs.
The Kavanagh file
1 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (Sam Maguire Cup 2012)
2 Ulster Senior Football Championships (Anglo Celt Cup 2011, 2012)
1 National Football League Division One (2007)
1 National Football League Division Two (2011)
1 Interprovincial (Railway Cup) 2012
1 Dr. McKenna Cup (2009)
5 Donegal Senior Football Championships (2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012)
3 Donegal League Division One (Democrat Cup 2005, 2008, 2012)