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18 for 18: The Canavan factor, son of former great shows signs of big Tyrone future

Darragh Canavan won an All-Ireland U17 football medal with Tyrone this year.

OVER THE NEXT 10 days, our 18 for 18 series will look at 18 Irish athletes aged 18 or younger set for a big 2018. You can read the rest of the series here.

Canavan Tyrone footballer Darragh Canavan Source: YouTube

THE BIGGEST DAYS of the 2017 GAA season saw evidence of family traditions being maintained.

In football Dean Rock, son of Barney, showed the nerve to sweep over the free that edged Dublin towards Sam Maguire.

In hurling Gearoid McInerney, son of Gerry, was a defensive rock on which Galway built their challenge as they ended a 29-year wait to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

And in the underage grades there were signs of a familiar name shining as well.

The last Sunday in August was not pleasant for Tyrone followers when they were dismantled by Dublin on the senior stage but the afternoon had began brightly when their U17 side were crowned All-Ireland champions.

They produced some sparkling football in that success over Roscommon with Darragh Canavan central to that. His father Peter conjured up plenty of sublime scoring displays in Croke Park and his son took the Roscommon rearguard for 1-3 from play.

His goal was a special effort as he thumped the ball to the net in front of Hill 16.

Source: TG4/YouTube

Tyrone’s minor footballers had hit a roadblock earlier on in the summer as they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage in Ulster by Derry, who would ultimately go on to contest the All-Ireland final in September.

But Canavan did chip in with 0-3 from play in that game, demonstrating the creative and scoring threat he possesses.

And the U17 championship would prove to be a perfect stage for him to express his talents over the course of the next few months. Before the decider with Roscommon, Canavan clipped over a trio of points in the semi-final win over Meath in August at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The Errigal Ciarán club man will not be involved in minor football next year, one of the players that misses out due to the changes in the grade.

Yet he displayed enough in 2017 to suggest that promising campaigns lie ahead for him.

Source: Ulster Schools GAA/YouTube

And there was some praise from a former opponent of his father’s back in late May, as he recalled watching the younger Canavan in action.

“He dominated the game for Tyrone,” remarked Joe Brolly.

“Well, it is amazing to me how these things go down through the genes. He is just like a mini Peter.

“I was just sitting there with my mouth open thinking ‘Oh my God, this kid is going to torture (us)’. This kid – left foot, right foot, his passing, his moving, his head was up all the time.

“Just like his dad. If you didn’t know the younger Canavan was playing on the pitch, you would have just said ‘oh my God, that looks like Peter Canavan reincarnated’.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

So long, lads: 15 inter-county hurling stars who called it a day in 2017

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