More than words

“He would have changed the circle if he could,
The circle that was the grass track where he ran.
Twenty times a day he ran round the field
And still there was no winning-post where the runner is cheered home.”

Extract from Patrick Kavanagh’s “The Great Hunger”

We have our very own literary Patrick Kavanagh here at Shamrock Rovers. While Patrick Kavanagh, the great Irish poet wrote famous works like Raglan Road and the Great Hunger, our own Paddy Kavanagh is doing his writing via a blog with one of the club sponsors Captain Americas (http://www.captainamericas.com/rovers-blog/). Paddy is following in the footsteps, or should that be odd coloured football boot steps, of Dessie Baker who did a weekly blog for Shamrock Rovers last season. Kavanagh has been giving plenty of humorous insights from inside the Rovers squad in his online blog. There certainly seems to be a good atmosphere in the dressing room to judge from his writing. There is plenty of banter, a few pranks (mainly involving ice baths) and a team spirit which is reflected on the pitch which sees Rovers sitting on top of the league as we face European opposition for the first time in Tallaght tonight.

Hoops Scene managed to tear him away from his blog the day after the win over Dundalk to discuss recent matches, tonight’s European clash and his work away from football. But first it was to discuss those infamous ice baths and Paddy Kavanagh’s Players Blog. “Yeah, it kind of goes with the name doesn’t it! I enjoy doing it,” explains Kavanagh about his blog before going on to discuss the post match recovery methods for the team. “The ice bath is the centre of attention after each home game. There is one ice bath beside the showers which is big, like an oversized paddling pool, full to the brim with ice thrown into it. It is there after the match to help you recover quicker. You like to ease your way into it, as its cold. But it is dangerous going into the showers. After each game you could be walking in for a shower, when all of a sudden somebody would grab you and you could be going head first into this ice bath!”

There looks to be plenty of fun had off the pitch to go with the serious business of League of Ireland football but Kavanagh was keeping his council as to who covered Steven Rice’s and Pat Flynn’s cars in cut grass after one training session. “Yeah, I’m not telling you who that is! It is all in good fun. There is great banter and camaraderie amongst the lads. We are like a big family.”

Last season Kavanagh put in a memorable performance in his home debut where he scored in the FAI Cup win over his former club UCD. His post match interview in the Glenmalure Suite was also memorable for the shortness of the interview! It seems slightly bizarre that a player who is playing in front of the biggest home crowds in the League of Ireland and is willing to write a blog for the club would be stuck for answers to a few questions after the game. “Stop, I’m the worst ever at interviews, I can’t do them!” claims Kavanagh. “I’m a bit shy in front of a crowd.”

Thankfully there was no shyness on the pitch in recent games from the winger as he put in some of his best displays for Rovers, taking on players and delivering quality ball into the box. “That is why I was brought to the club. I kind of stopped doing what I was brought to the club for. The gaffer [Michael O’Neill] had a word with me and told me not to be worrying about other things but to get the ball and be positive with it.” Injuries have played havoc with Kavanagh’s form since he joined the Hoops from Bray Wanderers in last season’s summer transfer window. “When you come to a new club, a massive club, and the biggest in the country, you just want to get out and make an impression. Show the fans and the people around the club what you are about and what you can do. I was constantly coming back from injury and then picking up the same niggle again a couple of weeks later which was heart breaking. So I’m delighted to get a run in the team having suffered a lot with injury over the last while. To sort of say I’m on top of all those problems now and to get playing regularly means I’m delighted especially with our league position.”

That position is top of the league which was gained initially last week by beating Saint Patrick’s Athletic. Rovers lost that top spot on Friday night due to the postponement of the game against Dundalk until last Sunday with the Louth club’s involvement with European football. Kavanagh agrees that it was important to go back top at the earliest opportunity which the Hoops did with the impressive 4-0 win over Dundalk. “It put the onus back onto us to see what we were made of. Dundalk wasn’t going to be an easy game for us.” Dundalk started well hitting the cross bar with an early free kick but that didn’t seem to worry the Hoops as they have put together some battling recent performances coming from behind against both Sligo Rovers and Pats. “If the free kick went in, it could have been a different game all together. I think it would have given them a bit more life. Even if we do go behind there is a feeling amongst us that we have the character to come back and win. It is usually the case in the league that the team that scores the first goal goes on to win the game so we kind of do it the other way around.”


Photo: http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/multimedia/gallery/first-team/category/413-v-st-pats-050710

As well as being a semi professional footballer, Kavanagh is also an apprentice electrician. He has developed this career following his return from English club Birmingham City. “I trained with the first team a lot when I was there and I was playing reserve team football week in and week out. At the time Birmingham were pressing for promotion with Steve Bruce as manager but he wasn’t going to go with any untrusted players at the time. I didn’t get a chance to play in the first team. I came home and there were one or two clubs sniffing around. I could have gone to Derry City and they were offering full time football but I’m an apprentice electrician and I wanted to get that done and have something behind me.” With Rovers operating a part time set up, it afforded Kavanagh the opportunity to continue his studies along with some work while at the same time prioritising his football. “With Rovers being part time, it is great as it gives me the opportunity to go and work and subsidise my income. I’m nearly a qualified sparks, I still have a set of exams to do and I do work the odd week. But my main focus is on Rovers, developing as a player and I want to win stuff.”

Tonight Kavanagh gets the chance to work on his wing play as the Hoops take on Bnei Yehuda of Tel Aviv. “This will be my debut in European football. Hopefully it is a good one and one to remember especially with it coinciding with the first ever European game in Tallaght. Hopefully we can get a victory.” He is thankful for the support that the fans give the team on nights like tonight and disappointed for the fans that is will be a difficult journey to next week’s second leg in Israel. “I think when we play in Tallaght and the crowd gets behind us it is like a twelfth man. You can really hear them and the passion that they roar us on with. I reckon we can take anybody on and on our day it doesn’t matter where they are from. I’m gutted for the fans that it is such long haul journey for the second leg.” With Paddy Kavanagh and the rest of the team in such good form, those fans hope that Rovers can continue their winning ways so that there can be another European night in Tallaght in a couple of weeks time. That would certainly be worth a few more online entries in Kavanagh’s blog.

“I really want to thank all the fans for their support during the season,
you have really been the twelfth man for the team,
long may it continue”

Extract from Paddy Kavanagh’s blog post “Appreciation to our fans”

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