Rory Kavanagh: 'It would be nice to try and go out on a high'

The Donegal man chats about making the choice to return this year and his battle to regain a place in the starting team.

Rory Kavanagh Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

TEN YEARS AFTER making his senior debut for Donegal, Rory Kavanagh starts his second All-Ireland final on Sunday, but 2014 hasn’t been all plain sailing.

The 32-year-old made life difficult for himself with a sending off in Donegal’s Division 2 league final defeat to Monaghan. Suspended for the opening round of the Ulster championship against Derry, injury ruled out an appearance the next day out against Antrim, while he had to make do with cameos off the bench against both Monaghan and Armagh.

Finally, Kavanagh was jettisoned into Donegal’s the starting XV for the clash against Dublin – their most impressive performance since 2012. It was a tough journey to regain his place, but he couldn’t have timed it any better.

“It was hard. The talk about Donegal is that we only have 17 or 18 players but that’s been pushed out to maybe 20 players. The boys who came in did very well and it was very hard for Jim to overlook them again for the next round of the Championship. It’s been a push to try and get back into the team.

“A bit of it was my own fault, really. I was sent off in the league final, which ruled me out of the first game, and then I picked up a wee niggling injury and that ruled me out of the other games in Ulster. I’m back now to full fitness and that is the main thing and pushing hard now for the place again.”

Donegal's Rory Gallaghaer is sent off by referee David Gough Kavanagh being sent off by David Gough in the Division 2 league final Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

His bid to regain a place in the starting line-up wasn’t helped by the irresistible form of Neil Gallagher and Odhran MacNiallais at centre-field. Instead he’s found his home at wing-forward, although dropping far deeper than the number of his back suggests.

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“It’s definitely competitive and that’s what you want – guys pushing each other very hard in training. That’s what you want, you want boys pushing each other very hard in training and laying it all out there. That’s what we have and it’s good going forward.

With a young family at home, Kavanagh admits he had second thoughts about returning to the fold this year, but ultimately all he needed was “a little bit of a push in the off-season.”

“It was family, really, with the baby and all that. That was a big thing and I just had to go away and talk to my family and see what could be done. I’ve always had great support from my family and I’m delighted to be back and it would be nice to try and go out on a high.

“We (Donegal squad) got together and we made our plans for the year. The general consensus was we didn’t want to end it like what happened against Mayo and that was a big, big factor. We wanted to show a bit of character and show what we were about. That was important to us. That was a big factor in coming back.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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