"I'm getting spat on, I've been bitten, I don't want to play this game"

September 12, 2018

Sean Cavanagh in action for Tyrone against Cavan in 2005. ©INPHO/Andrew Paton.

The 2005 Ulster SFC semi-final against Cavan left a lasting impression on Sean Cavanagh for all the wrong reasons.

The Red Hands overcame the Breffni County after a replay and, in his new autobiography, ‘The Obsession’, the 2008 ‘Footballer of the Year’ recalls being spat on and bitten by an opponent in Clones and how he was reduced to tears during half-time...

“I bawled, trying to hide it from my team-mates, but you couldn't hide that,” he writes.

“Mickey came over to me: ‘What's the deal?’.

“I'm getting spat on, I've been bitten, I don't want to play this game.

“Mickey and the lads calmed me down. I had already spent most of my Tyrone career getting special attention - shoulders, elbows, knees in the back - but that was nothing. This was my first taste of spitting and biting.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Paul Kimmage in The Sunday Independent, Cavanagh lamented the lack of protection from the officials on duty.

“That was the thing that really got to me. I remember going to the referee and the linesmen with the 'gob' running down my face and asking: “How can you let him away with this? How is this legal?” And the referee saying: “I didn't see anything”.”

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