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10th Oct 2023

Tyrone legend compares Canavan brothers to one of Brazil’s greatest entertainers

Lee Costello

“They can do the unexpected.”

Darragh and Ruairi Canavan have had to live up to a lot being the sons of Tyrone legend Peter, but one former Red Hand star went on better and compared them to a Brazil superstar.

Stevie O’Neill was one of the very best forwards to play Gaelic football, period. His skill, range, accuracy, and audacious nature made him a genuine star of the modern game and a hero for Tyrone.

It’s no surprise that such a flashy forward is hugely excited to see the young Canavan brothers make such a brilliant breakthrough last season on the inter-county stage, and now continue to dominate in the club championship.

Having played with their father, who is arguably the greatest payer in the county’s history, few are better equipped to pass judgement on the two lads than O’Neill.

Stevie O’Neill compares Canavan brothers to one of Brazil’s greatest entertainers.

The 2005 Player of the Year spoke about the sensational siblings when he was a guest on the GAA Hour podcast earlier this summer, and made a pretty bold comparison.

“One thing that I enjoy when watching them is that they are playing with a smile on their face. If they miss a shot, you can see them smiling and some boys are giving them a bit of jipe on the way out, and it doesn’t even faze them.

“They have that confidence that they know 9/10 times that ball will go over the bar, and you can see the hunger and desire to get the next ball, and to get the shot away, so it’s good to see that there is boys playing with a smile on their face.


“It reminds you a wee bit of Ronaldinho whenever he was playing, the flashes of genius he would have had in soccer, and to me, they can do the unexpected.

“You know that they are going to have a cut, they are going to take their man on and they are going to produce something.”

Stevie O’Neill points out one glaring difference between Peter Canavan and his two sons.

Their father was well known for his moments of genius and brilliance on the field, but when asked if he shared his sons visible enthusiasm of the game during matches, his former teammate pointed out the stark differences.

“No he was just aggressive and angry all the time,” laughed O’Neill.

“Peter was the same type of player, he could do the flashes of brilliance, and he was just so calm under pressure, but whatever way people got on when they were on the pitch is up to them.

“I think the way they are carrying themselves at the minute, it’s great to watch, they are role models for any young forwards growing up to play with a smile on your face, but bring the stuff that every coach and every team wants.

“They still bring the intensity, tackling, and take men on – I just think they are great role models.”

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