All-Ireland winning Cork midfielder Derek Kavanagh has confirmed that he is retiring from football because of a recurring hip injury.
Kavanagh, 30, had called time on his inter-county career with Cork after finally winning an All-Ireland Senior medal last September and has now been forced to quit the game completely on medical advice.
The Nemo Rangers stalwart, who played in the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club semi-final defeat to Roscommon’s, St Brigid’s last month, has been plagued by a knee problem over the last number of seasons.
“I spoke to the doctor and the surgeon and they’ve completely advised against playing on,” Kavanagh told Cork’s Evening Echo.
“When we were preparing for that game (the All-Ireland semi-final) I was really struggling to get through a week of training. I was constantly trying to balance staying fit with giving the hip a break and I was falling way behind as a result.”
Kavanagh, the younger brother of two-time All-Ireland winner Joe, won the last of eight county titles with Nemo Rangers last October, when the Leeside giants beat St Finbarr’s. Growing up in Ballyphehane, the three Kavanagh brothers first love was soccer though that changed once elder brother Joe joined the Cork minors.
He also won four AIB Munster GAA Club titles, the last of which came in January, and tasted All-Ireland Club success in 2002.
Derek won his first All Ireland medal, after several near misses in last year’s Final against Down – a win he put down to “ the great team spirit .”It’s a cliché but the spirit was fantastic. Fellas were willing to do anything and everything – and they did, you just knew that all the lads were working away on the side, doing extra bits to get themselves right.
“The management were probably meeting four or five times a week, they put massive work into it as well, and because of that everybody was willing to work as hard. I don’t think Conor (Counihan) ever had to pull someone aside because of their commitment.
“Everybody put it in because everybody knew the whole panel, players and management, was putting in the work. When you’re involved in that scene, with 40 fellas doing that kind of work, it’s easy to do it. I wouldn’t think one extra ounce of work could have been done during the season.”
Asked who was on his list of “best opponents” he said : “There’s no list of players, just Colm Cooper – he was definitely the best I ever came up against.” I know that all who have witnessed Kavanagh play with such passion over so many years will wish him well in his retirement – no one has been a greater servant of Nemo Rangers and Cork football.