Reavey delighted to fulfil Cullyhanna dream

By Shaun Casey

AS the final whistle sounded in Croke Park last Sunday evening, Caolan Reavey’s initial thought was to embrace the open arms of club stalwart Barry McConville, who entered the fray for the last few minutes of the All-Ireland final.

Reavey and McConville have built up a lasting friendship over the past few seasons, despite the 18-year age gap. The pair sit beside each other in the changing rooms and on the bus, so it was fitting they hugged it out and celebrated Cullyhanna’s greatest ever achievement.

With emigration, injuries and county commitments down through the years, Cullyhanna sunk to intermediate but through the bad days of back-to-back relegations, Reavey and McConville were two players that showed up time and time again and gave their all.

“I had to go to Barry,” laughed Reavey when asked who he first laid eyes on at the sound of the full-time whistle. “He’s thinking of retiring so I wanted to make sure I gave him one last hug but hopefully he doesn’t.

“Barry’s a real leader and me and Barry would be very close. He was very disappointed to be dropped today but he still remained composed, and he said he’d be ready to come on.

“Barry’s coming 40 and I’m 22 but I think that’s the good thing; he always has plenty of stories to tell me and he made his senior debut before I was even born.

“We were joking on the way down the road, I asked Mal Mackin about his debut and it was in 2001. That was before I was even born, they don’t like when I bring that up!”

Reavey was one of a couple of Cullyhanna players that graced Ireland’s most famous venue, Croke Park, for the first time in their lives and the experience inside Stephen Reel’s changing room helped settle the nerves.

Ross McQuillan, player of the match Jason Duffy, Aidan Nugent and Mickey Murray have all showed their skills on Jones’ Road in the orange and white of Armagh, as have coaches Ciaran McKeever and Malachy Mackin, so that insight helped Reavey in the build-up.

“I learn off all of those boys, especially during the build-up, we only got one week turnaround. Just talking to Ross, Jason, Aidan and Ciaran, it’s just another field.

“It’s a bit wider but you adapt to it after a while and thankfully we did and got over the line. Once you hit the pitch, everything is just back to basics – just sticking to the tactics but I think the first ten minutes, we were probably nervous.

“I kicked two balls away and the shout came from the sideline just to stay composed. If we kept the ball for a minute and a half then it eases us into the game, and everyone gets a touch of the ball, and it helps to relax you.

“It took us a few minutes to get into the game but once we got settled then I thought we really controlled the game.”


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