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Tyrone legend Sean Cavanagh on why Armagh is such a cultural fit for family and business

For all intents and purposes, Sean Cavanagh is a son of Tyrone – a former county captain, three All-Ireland medals, five All-Stars; the list of accolades goes on.

So much so, he says his parents’ home is like a sporting monument; his own home, you would struggle to tell he played football at all.

But strangely enough, Sean says his affinity – certainly off the sporting fields – lies on the Armagh side of the River Blackwater – some would argue, the good side..

Growing up in Coalisland, Sean made the move to Moy, which of course straddles the Armagh border.

“The Moy is probably 50-50, Tyrone-Armagh, and as much as it kind of pains me where my allegiance fell, whilst on the sporting field it was always Tyrone, but in terms of town, the easiest and most accessible town for me, even growing up , it was Armagh,” Sean admitted in this week’s podcast.

“I obviously had a lot of friends who went to school in Armagh and it just felt natural in a weird sense that we were five or six miles in a straight road between one another.”

Sean spent the first five years of secondary school in St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon where he admits “it didn’t feel totally right”.

He made the move over to St Patrick’s Grammar in Armagh for his A-Levels where he fitted in perfectly.

“I found myself at home,” he said. “I found a lot of friends, it was a very homely atmosphere; just culturally it fitted.

“I managed to win a MacRory Cup, I managed to get straight As out of the school; I made some brilliant relationships that I’ve always felt close with. I met my future wife. My kids are now in Armagh, they dance in Armagh, the play music and they swim in Armagh. The town always has had a real significance to me from those teenage years. And I now carry that into a business sense.”

Unfortunately for Armagh GAA fans, that sense of belonging was a little too late in a footballing sense.

Since retiring from inter-county football in 2017, something he says “scared the life out of me”, Sean has thrown himself into the world of business with the same vigour he had on the sporting field.

“I was constantly on this cycle that my mind almost needs something to be chasing. Whenever I knew the county football was coming to an end, I thought, right, well, I’m gonna have to transfer that energy elsewhere.

“And naturally for me, it was it was a sort of a life decision then to say, right, well, I’m going to have to do something here that’s going to give me the same buzz that I’m going to enjoy putting something into in order to get something out, because that is the same dynamic as sport, where you train harder, you get fitter, and you get stronger, so you enjoy it more.

“So, business is very much like that, if you put in that effort with your employees, with your clients you’re working with, with your infrastructure, with your future ambition and development…I’m absolutely committed and focused to business in the same way that I was absolutely committed and focused to achieving everything I could potentially achieve as a sports person.”

Listen to Sean’s story in business and how he keeps growing, despite the many challenges he faces – including a fire in his Moy premises within months of going out on his own – and how he balances his life between home and work – it certainly hasn’t been easy!

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