"Gone are the days when you’d be afraid of having gel in your hair"
Sean Cavanagh talked about it in his book ' The obsession.'
A young Tyrone player walked into the dressing room looking more bronzed than usual and hoping to get a bit of slagging going, Cavanagh remarked 'Jeez lad, there's a nice gloss of you.'
The dry response took him by surprise.
"Yeah, I got the tan done today"
Cavanagh knew the game was changing. With fake tan, fade haircuts and mirror checks becoming normalised, and accepted in the game, the Moy club man felt like he'd sleepwalked into a new world.
This is the way these days though and speaking at the launch of Benetti Menswear's GAA campaign for 2019, he spoke about the stark contrast in the Tyrone dressing room when he burst onto the scene in 2002 and when he left it in 2017.
"It wasn’t just the one of them (with the tan done), it was plural there for sure," he laughs.
And most traditional GAA heads will know where he's coming from. With the 'Love Island' culture alive and spreading in Ireland, it was always going to seep into the GAA.
He couldn't have predicted it all those years ago.
"That’s been happening the last few years. Gone are the days when you’d be afraid of having gel in your hair landing at training!
That’s the culture that’s there at the moment in society. It’s definitely a far cry from the one I started out in. If I had have tried to pull that back in 2002, I would imagine there would have been a few choice words handed that to me!"
He tells another story from Tyrone training.
I remember we were up in Garvaghy one day at 10.00 and I had ice packs on both my knees, they were giving me bother at this point. So I was walking out with shorts on, with ice packs, hoping to just get into the car and to not get noticed on my way home.
"I remember meeting Tiernan McCann and Tiernan was fixing the tie at 10.00 at night. I was thinking, ‘what are you doing In the mirror fixing your tie? ‘I just want to look good.’ I was thinking, you want to look good to get into the car to drive five minutes down the road to take the tie off and get into your bed!
Cavanagh didn't understand it. Neither did he understand McCann's altercation with Stephen McMenamin. Cavanagh knows the Killyclogher club man as a sound, intelligent fella and he feels there must have been a great deal of provocation involved to incite the response that followed.
"Tiernan’s the type of guy, he’s an intelligent guy, he’s a pharmacist. He knows. I remember after the Darren Hughes incident, he was the first man to come out and say I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I’ve no doubt he felt the exact same after Donegal. I haven’t been speaking with him but that type of incident, it’s not the type of thing you want to see in the game. Tiernan will be the first man to tell you that.
"There’s always two sides to these things and that’s the bit that people watching on tv don’t always see. I’m pretty sure there must have been some sort of provocation there, I don’t know the details of it. It doesn’t seem logical to me that he did what he did without...he lost the head, he did something that should never be in a sporting environment. It obviously was some sort of a reaction. Look, he’s got his two game ban and that’s where it’s at at the moment. There’s been a few incidents creeping in, eye gouging and stuff like that and I think everybody recognises that it has to be harshly clamped down on. The sooner the GAA do that with every incident, the better for the game.
Former GAA star Sean Cavanagh of Tyrone was in Dublin today for the reveal and official launch of the Benetti Menswear GAA Ambassador campaign for 2019. Benetti are an Irish designed menswear clothing brand who supply a fully comprehensive collection in tailoring, casual menswear, footwear and accessories.