Kavanagh walking tall when it matters for St. Eunan’s

Kavanagh walking tall when it matters for St. Eunan’s
There always comes a time in a match when a big player stands up to make a real difference.

There always comes a time in a match when a big player stands up to make a real difference.

It can be a score, a block, a thundering shoulder charge or a simple act of defiance in adversity that lifts a team to new heights.

And for “surprise” county finalists St Eunan’s it came about five minutes from the end of their highly entertaining battle with St Michael’s, when one of their true talismen really walked tall.

Eunan’s were trailing St Michael’s by 2-8 to 1-10 and despite their entire patient passing it looked like the match was slipping away from them.

Cometh the crisis, and cometh one Rory Kavanagh, a man who has already played in nine county finals and it showed.

Kavanagh grabbed a ball on the right wing on the sideline from about 25 metres out and he went for broke.

The ball sailed high into the wind and dropped over the bar to level matters.

It was a truly inspirational score and Conor Gibbons then got the clincher and now the youthful Kavanagh (32) is facing into his 10th county final with his beloved Letterkenny.

“I thought we needed something at that stage.

“At that stage we were throwing the ball around but were not getting that much joy from it.

“It was important to try and stick one of these and give us a bit of momentum.

“If you miss it you are still putting on the pressure as the ball has gone dead.

“So I had to go for it”, he said.

But modest Kavanagh says Darragh Mulgrew’s goal in the 39th minute was a much more important score.

“That was a very important score for us as we were four down at that stage and that was a really big score to get us back into it.”

And now they face a Glenswilly side that is being touted as pretty considerable favourites for Sunday’s clash.

“Glenswilly are very economical and have a game plan that suits the type of players they have.

“They are big and strong and physical with Michael Murphy, Neil Gallagher, Ciaran Bonner and Gary McFadden who can create chances and take them.

“And you are going to get punished if you concede frees against Michael Murphy”.

But youthful Eunans have shown a maturity way beyond their years in their march to this year’s county final.

Maxi Curran’s men kept their patient passing game a la Barcelona even though St Michael’s hit them with two sucker punch goals that put them four points adrift on two occasions.

Less composed teams would have wilted, but Kavanagh points to the emphasis on making the right decisions and never panicking.

“The decision making has to be key.

“Jim (McGuinness) used to say that when you are on the ball you are the point of the attack so there is no point in coughing up possession and that is a key principle for us as well”.

But he has nothing but admiration for opponents Glenswilly.

“You have to admire them from where they come from and their pick.

“In the last decade we had a very strong team but Glenswilly are in that mould now.

“They are all a similar age and similar stature (big men) and they got to an Ulster club final.

“Michael Murphy is a great leader and I have nothing but respect for them.”

But Rory, Conall Dunne, Kevin Rafferty, Eamon Doherty and Big John Haran have been complemented by youthful talent like Mulgrew, Gibbons and dual star Sean McVeigh, who was simply superb against St Michael’s.

Impressive Eunan’s also demolished a disappointing Four Masters side in a one-sided quarter-final clash.

“The young players have settled in well and are playing with great flair.”

But nobody is playing with greater flair than the most youthful Kavanagh who could be yet another match-winner on Sunday.

For really big players usually walk tall when it matters.