Peter Canavan

Peter Canavan

Infobox GAA player |

caption =
name =Peter Canavan
irish =Peadar Ó Ceannabháin
nickname = Peter 'The Great', [citation | last= O'Sullivan | first = Jim | title= Peter the Great ready to answer Tyrone's call | year= 2004 | date = 2004-06-19 | newspaper = The Irish Examiner | url = ]
'Wee Peter'
placeofbirth =Tyrone
countryofbirth =Northern Ireland
bday =09
bmonth =04
byear =1971
dday =
dmonth =
dyear =
feet =5
inches =09
occupation =Teacher citation | publisher = DBA Publishing | date = 2005-09-25 | journal = 2005 All-Ireland Final Match Programme | title= Player Profiles - Tyrone ]
sport =Gaelic football
code =Football
county =Tyrone
province =Ulster
clposition = Forward
club =Errigal Ciarán
clyears =1990–2007
clapps(points) =
clcounty = 6
clprovince = 2
clubs =Errigal Ciarán
counties = Tyrone
icposition = Forward
icyears = 1989–2005
icapps(points) = 49 (9–191 (218))
icprovince =4
icallireland =2
allstars =6
nfl =2
icupdate =(22:03, 21 December 2006 (UTC))
clupdate =(15:04, 10 January 2007 (UTC)))|

Peter Canavan (born 9 April 1971) is a former Gaelic football player for Tyrone, and is one of the most decorated players in the game's history. He represented Ireland in the International Rules Series on several occasions from 1998 until 2000.

After sixteen years on the senior inter-county scene, and with two All-Ireland Senior Championship Medals, six All Stars (more than any other Ulster player, and joint third overall), [cite web | url= | title = Big three sweep awards boards | accessdate=2007-01-25 | date=2005-11-26 | author = Martin Breheny | publisher= "Irish Independent Online"] four Ulster titles, and several under-age and club championship medals to his name, he is considered one of the great players of the last twenty years by commentators such as John Haughey of the BBC.cite web | url= | title= Canavan's remarkable career| accessdate= 2007-01-25 | author = John Haughey| publisher = "BBC Sport" | date = 2005-09-26] [cite web |url= |title= Two Bald Eagles: Peter The Great and Lion Hearted Leo | accessdate=2007-01-25 | date= 2003-10-03 | author = 'Press Box Lad' | publisher = An Fear Rua]

His scoring record of 218 points is the second highest of all time in the Ulster Senior Football Championship.cite web | url= |title= Ulster's hot-shots |accessdate=2007-01-25 | date=2006-07-18 | publisher = "BBC Sport"] His early high scoring rate, when he would often be Tyrone's best performer [cite web | url= |title= Peter's loss lamented| accessdate= 2007-04-29 | author = Jerome Quinn | date = 2002-05-27] —particularly in the 1995 All-Ireland final when he scored eleven of Tyrone's twelve points—led to claims that Tyrone was a "one-man show";cite web | url= | title = Tyrone and Canavan came up short in 'eyesore' final| accessdate= 2007-01-25 | publisher = "Irish Independent" | date = 2005-08-07 | author = Sean Ryan ] [Citation | title = Gormley chases double with help from Canavan | newspaper = Belfast Telegraph | year =1996 | date= June 24, 1996] however, the continued emergence of skilled players such as Brian Dooher and Stephen O'Neill dissipated that criticism.

Canavan's career features many examples of indiscipline, [Citation | last =Keys | first =Colm | title = TYRONE ACE CANAVAN'S JAW BROKEN | newspaper = The Mirror
pages = 36 | year =1998 | date= April 30
] including on-pitch scuffles with other players.

Personal life

Canavan was the tenth of eleven children.citation | last =Walsh | first =David | title = Gaelic games | newspaper = The Sunday Times | year = 1996 | date = 1996-08-28] His older brother, Pascal, played with him on the Tyrone panel for most of the 1990s. He is married to Finola, and has four children, Áine, Claire, Darragh and Ruairi, [cite web| url= | title = Honorees Index - Peter Canavan | accessdate= 2008-05-22 | publisher = Flax Trust International] and has been a Physical Education teacher in Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, throughout most of his career.cite web|url= | title=University To Honour Ulster Sporting Heroes Canavan And Humphreys| accessdate=2007-01-25 | date= 2003-10-30 | publisher = University of Ulster] While there, he taught Eoin Mulligan his point-taking technique, and the pair have been known in the media as 'master and student' ever since, particularly by television commentators. [cite web| url = | title =Learning at school| accessdate=2007-05-02 | publisher = "BBC Sport"] He also writes a column for the Gaelic games magazine, "Hogan Stand" [cite web | url= | title= Canavan's Hogan Stand column regarding the decision by the GAA to axe Rule 42 |accessdate= 2007-01-25 | date = 2005-05-10 | publisher = "Hogan Stand"] and the Northern Ireland edition of "The Daily Mirror". [citation | url= | title = WHEN GEEZER EXPLODED IT SHOOK US UP | author = Peter Canavan | accessdate = 2007-08-26 | publisher = The Daily Mirror] In 2008, Canavan joined TV3 as a football pundit for their first year of broadcasting live GAA matches. [citation | url = | title = TV3 ANNOUNCES GAA LINE UP FOR THE 2008 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON | publisher = TV3 Ireland | author = TV3 press release | date = 2008-05-15 | accessdate = 2008-05-22]

In 2003, just over a week before Tyrone's Ulster final appearance against Down, Canavan's father, Seán, died. It came as a shock to Canavan, who had thought his father (who was already in hospital) was getting better. He decided to play in the match, stating that he knew, subconsciously " [he] was going to be playing in the Ulster final all along and Daddy certainly wouldn't have wanted [him] to do anything but play." [cite book | first=Peter | last=Canavan | title=Every Step We Took. 2003 - A Football Odyssey | publisher=All Star Print Ltd. | location=Omagh, Northern Ireland | year=2004 | pages = 46 | id=ISBN 0-9546616-0-5]

Canavan has suffered from asthma since he was a child, and has battled throughout his career to control the ailment. He told the Asthma Society of Ireland, "I thought to myself, this is something that I am just going to have to put up with." In later years, however, improved medication has afforded Canavan what he described as, "a better quality of life". [cite web |url= |title=Peter Canavan - Life With Asthma |accessdate=2007-01-25 | publisher =]

Under-age career

In order to play for an inter-county GAA team, Canavan had to work around a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) bylaw, due to a dispute in his parish, Errigal Ciarán. Two clubs claimed to represent the parish, the established Ballygawley St. Ciaran's club and the newly-formed club, then called Errigal Ciaran Naomh Malachai. Players from the Errigal team were not recognised as being GAA members, because the club failed to register correctly. Canavan registered as a member of the Killyclogher hurling club, even though he didn't play the sport, just so he would be eligible for selection for the Tyrone minors. Prior to that, he had not played legitimate club football, but had forged his way onto the Tyrone under-age teams with his performances at school level. The two clubs united under the banner of Errigal Ciaran two years later.cite web |url= |title= Canavan biography in Hogan Stand magazine |accessdate=2007-01-25 | date = 1991-11-08 | publisher = "Hogan Stand"]

In 1988, Canavan won the Ulster minor Championship, but lost in the All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry.Canavan captained Tyrone to two All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championships (U-21) titles in 1991 and 1992, having been on the team which lost the 1990 final, again to Kerry. In four years as an U-21 player, Canavan scored 13-53 (13 goals and 53 points—each goal equals 3 points; 13 x 3 + 53 = 92 points, see GAA scoring rules) for Tyrone .cite journal |title=Will this All-Ireland be the last chapter in the Canavan story? |journal=Team Talk |first=Kenny |last=Curran |issue=45 |pages=14–19 |month=September |year=2005 |publisher= All-Star Publications, Ltd.] By the time he was twenty, he was already an automatic choice in the senior panel.

Early senior career

Canavan's name was already known around Tyrone because of his exploits for the U-21 team, but he started to make an impact in the Ulster Senior Football Championship in 1994. He was the top scorer in Ulster, earning him his first All Star, at the age of 23.cite web| url= |title= FOOTBALL ALL STARS | accessdate = 2007-01-25 | publisher = "Hogan Stand"]

Throughout the 1995 championship, Canavan had spearheaded Tyrone's march to the final, with round after round of massive scoring exploits. Against Derry in the Ulster Semi-Final, he scored 0–8, and against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final, he scored 1–7. [cite web | url= | title =The Artful Manager |accessdate= 2007-05-10 | date= 2006-04-14 | publisher = Culture Northern Ireland] He scored eleven of Tyrone's twelve points in the All-Ireland Final, despite ending up on the losing side to Dublin. The game was remembered as contentious for Tyrone fans, for the fact that a point that would have equalised the match in the dying seconds was controversially disallowed, because the blind-sided referee deemed Canavan to have touched the ball on the ground.cite web | url= | title = Tyrone and Canavan came up short in 'eyesore' final| accessdate= 2007-01-25 | publisher = "Irish Independent" | date = 2005-08-07 | author = Sean Ryan ] He was the top scorer in Ireland that year, with a total of 1–38,cite journal |title= Will this All-Ireland be the last chapter in the Canavan story? |journal=Team Talk |first=Kenny |last=Curran |issue=45 |pages=14–19 |month=September |year=2005 |publisher=All-Star Publications, Ltd.] earning him the inaugural Footballer of the Year title. The fact that Canavan's scoring tally was so far ahead of his peers on the team led to suggestions that Tyrone were depending too heavily on him.In 1996, Canavan was handed the captaincy of Tyrone, and was Ulster's leading scorer for the third year in a row, and subsequently earned his third successive All Star award. Tyrone reached the All-Ireland semi-final against Meath, but Canavan was one of six Tyrone players to sustain injuries that day, which some Tyrone fans attribute to Meath's heavy-handedness. Canavan's injury was so severe that he was still feeling the effects for over a year. Speculation abounds as to whether he had been playing on a broken foot.cite web | url= | title= Tyrone can maintain progress | accessdate= 2007-01-25 | publisher = "BBC Sport" | date = 2002-07-21 ]

1997–2000: International stage

Canavan represented Ireland in the inaugural International Rules Series in 1998 against Australia. In 1999, he was named vice-captain of the team for the tour to Australia, and Ireland came away convincing winners, with Canavan scoring eleven points in the first test in Adelaide, South Australia.citeweb | url= | title= Ireland are go! |accessdate=2007-01-25 | publisher = "Hogan Stand" | date = 1999-10-30] In 2000, Canavan was sent off in the second test, after fighting Australian Jason Akermanis. He was banned for one match, which wouldn't be played until the next year, so he ruled himself out of the next series. [cite web | url= | title= Canavan out of Rules series| accessdate=2007-02-22 | publisher = "BBC Sport" | date = 2001-09-07 ] In five tests Canavan scored 37 points, becoming one of the few Irish players to leave their mark on the Australian supporters. cite web| url= |title= GAA debates International Rules, AFL recruiting, and own international dimension | accessdate=2007-04-23 | author = 'Peter P' | publisher = World Footy News | date = 2006-01-07] [ cite web | url=,8033,19044068^5004902,00.html | title= Backpacker (why Jason should take a hike into defence) | accessdate= 2007-04-29 | date= 2006-04-28 | author = Dermott Brereton | publisher = "Herald Sun" ]

Late senior career

Canavan's influence may be best illustrated by Tyrone's 2002 campaign. Whenever he was on the pitch, the team seemed like All-Ireland title contenders, but he was unable to play in the All-Ireland quarter final, against Sligo. Tyrone were heavy favourites, but ended up losing the match.Canavan won his fourth All Star that year, the only Tyrone player to do so, which may go some way to emphasizing the value of his presence on the team. This also made him Tyrone's most represented player on the All Star Roll of Honour, overtaking Eugene McKenna, his manager at the time. [ citation | url = | title= Tyrone Profile | accessdate = 2007-05-17 | publisher = Hogan Stand]

2003: Championship glory

In 2003, Peter 'The Great' finally shook off his tag as 'the greatest player never to win an All-Ireland', captaining Tyrone to All-Ireland glory against neighbouring rivals, Armagh. As he approached the podium on the Hogan Stand, his nervousness was visible, and after being handed the trophy, he made an emotional speech about how he had to watch other Ulster teams lift the Sam Maguire Cup, but "to eventually win it is something else." [citation | url = | title= Tyrone are All-Ireland champions | accessdate = 2007-05-17 | publisher ="BBC Sport" | date = 2003-09-28]

Canavan amassed a total of 1–48 (51 points) over the course of the Championship.cite web| url= | title=Captain fantastic Canavan scoops readers' top award | accessdate= 2007-04-29 | publisher = "Irish Independent" | date = 2004-01-20] Among his more notable performances of the year included an eight-point haul in the replayed first round match against Derry, [cite web| url= | title= Tyrone destroy dismal Derry | accessdate= 2007-03-04 | date = 2003-05-24 | publisher= "RTÉ Sport" ] and in the replayed Ulster Final, Canavan scored eleven points. [cite web |url=| title= Disappointing Down no match for silky Tyrone | accessdate=2007-03-04 | publisher= "RTÉ Sport" | date= 2003-07-20] This scoring tally earned him a fifth All Star.

In the Ulster final against Down, Canavan was playing just over a week after the passing of his father. He remarked in his autobiography that he feared Tyrone were going to lose by one of the biggest margins in Ulster Championship history, if they didn't stem the flow of the Down attack. [cite web| url= | title= Clones thriller ends in draw |accessdate= 2007-01-25 | date = 2003-07-13 | publisher = "BBC Sport"] [cite book | first=Peter | last=Canavan | title=Every Step We Took. 2003 - Football Odyssey | publisher=All Star Print Ltd. | location= Omagh, Northern Ireland | year=2004 | pages = 48 | id=ISBN 0-9546616-0-5] When Tyrone were awarded a penalty, Canavan stepped up, due to Stephen O'Neill (the first choice penalty-taker) being on the bench. He took the kick, and managed to find the net. He later described the kick as "the most important of my career," citing the fact that if Tyrone had been heavily beaten, they probably wouldn't have been able to pick themselves up to play in the 'back door' qualifier series. [cite book | first=Peter | last=Canavan | title=Every Step We Took. 2003 - Football Odyssey | publisher=All Star Print Ltd. | location=Omagh, Northern Ireland | year=2004 | pages = 51 | id=ISBN 0-9546616-0-5]

His appearance in the final was remarkable for the fact that he was the top scorer of the day with five points, despite having suffered an ankle injury in the previous match, and was not expected (or advised) to play. He started the match and was taken off before half time. During the break, and even some way into the second half, he was receiving treatment to his ankle, including pain-killing injections.
With seven minutes remaining, he was reintroduced by manager Mickey Harte, a shrewd—albeit necessary—move, considering Canavan was the only member of the team who had played in an All-Ireland final before. This reintroduction, while not the first time it had happened (blood substitutions had been used sporadically, for example), was seen as one of the greatest moments in the GAA in the last forty years, [citation | url = | title = Magic Moments to Mark The Start of a New Championship | author = Aidan Begley | publisher = The Harp | date = April 2005 | accessdate = 2008-05-22] a tribute to both the player's legacy and inspiration, and the manager's tactical superiority.

Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year

Canavan was voted Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year, [cite web| url= | title=Canavan wins BBC award| accessdate=2007-01-25 | date = 2003-12-06 | publisher "BBC Sport"] which is a regional award of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Following an email campaign throughout Ireland, Canavan was a surprising early forerunner for the national award, despite the fact that Gaelic games have very little exposure in Great Britain.cite web | url= |title=Whole of Ireland Behind Peter Canavan's BBC Sports Personality of the Year Campaign | accessdate= 2007-01-25 | date = 2003-12-10]

2005: Championship swan song

Canavan relinquished his captaincy to the late Cormac McAnallen after the 2003 Championship, and had been used mostly as an 'impact substitute' throughout the year in 2005—brought on to either unsettle the opposition, or rally his teammates.

His fiery temperament was displayed early in the year, when he was notoriously sent off within a minute of coming on as a substitute in the Ulster Final replay replay against Armagh. [cite web| url= | title=Armagh take Ulster title in scrappy affair|accessdate=2007-03-04 | publisher = "RTÉ Sport" | date = 2005-07-23] This decision was highly criticised and the referee later admitted he had made a mistake with the sending off. [cite web| url= | title=Collins admits red card error| accessdate=2007-01-25 | publisher ="Hogan Stand"| date=2005-07-25]

He also displayed how important his experience was to the team in the semi-final against Armagh (who were meeting Tyrone for the third time that year), when, after a very taut match, the two well-matched teams were heading for a draw. Tyrone won a free kick in the last seconds, and Canavan, a substitution, took the responsibility of the pressure kick and slotted the ball over the bar in the last kick of the game, winning the match for Tyrone. [cite web| url= | title= Armagh 1-12 1-13 Tyrone ALL-IRELAND SEMI-FINAL| accessdate=2007-01-25 | date = 2005-09-04 | publisher = "BBC Sport"] Kevin McStay, a former Mayo player, described it as the point of the season, despite the kick being from a relatively straightforward position. [cite web| url= | title=KEVIN McSTAY COLUMN | date= 21 December 2005| accessdate=2007-04-02 | publisher ="Hogan Stand"]

] He received a pass from Eoin Mulligan on the edge of the area, and drilled a low shot past two Kerry defenders and the goalkeeper.

Other awards

Canavan was part of both Tyrone sides that won the National Football League title two years in a row—in 2002 and 2003—and he competed in the 1992 final against Derry. His success in other competitions include five Railway Cups, two Vocational Schools titles, and one Dr. McKenna Cup.

In 2003, Canavan became the first GAA star to gain an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster, which he was awarded along with David Humphreys, the Ulster and Ireland rugby player.

All Stars

Canavan won three consecutive GAA All Star awards from 1994 through 1996 and the Player of the Year award in 1995. He also received three GAA All-star awards in the 2000s. One in 2002 and another in 2003, the year of his first All-Ireland win. He then went on to win his final Gaelic Athletic Association All Star in 2005, before his inter-county retirement.

Club career

He has continued to play at club level for Errigal Ciarán, and is enjoying success at this level. Ironically, in 2006, Canavan won his first Tyrone AllStar for his performances in the club championship. [cite web |url= | title=Canavan wins first Tyrone All-Star | accessdate=2007-01-25 | date = 2006-12-20 | publisher = "Hogan Stand" ] The club has a rich history during the years Canavan has played, winning six Tyrone Senior Club titles and two Ulster Club Championships. [cite web | url= |title=Errigal Ciaran achievements |accessdate=2007-01-25] . Canavan's club career spanned 17 years at senior level , with his final year playing the thirds team.

Inter-county retirement

Canavan retired from Inter-county football in 2005, ending a sixteen-year tenure in Senior championship football. [cite web| url= |title= Lawn joins Canavan in retirement | accessdate=2007-01-25 | date = 2005-09-26| publisher = "BBC Sport"] He said of his decision, "I have spent enough time on the treatment table", referring to his die-hard habit of playing through potentially career-threatening injuries, as he had done in 1996 and 2003. Canavan's appearance in the 2005 final (his last game for Tyrone), was his forty-ninth Championship match.In January 2007, Canavan rounded off his career by captaining the 2005 All Stars team in an exhibition game in Dubai against the 2006 All Stars team and won the match 4–13 to 3–10. [cite web| url= | title=2005 All Stars outclass 2006 vintage|accessdate=2007-01-27 | date = 2007-01-27 | publisher = "RTÉ Sport"]

Disciplinary problems

Discipline has been an underlying problem in Canavan's career, which at times threatened to overshadow his achievements. Jack O'Connor, Kerry's manager in the 2005 All-Ireland final, suggested Canavan tackled Colm Cooper off the ball, preventing him getting into a goal-scoring position. [cite book
last =O'Connor
first =Jack
authorlink = Jack O'Connor
coauthors =
title =Keys to the Kingdom
publisher =Penguin Ireland
date= 4 July 2007
isbn = 1844881539
] This action was also criticised by The Sunday Tribune journalist, Kieran Shannon. [Citation
last =Shannon
first =Keiran
title =A history of violence
newspaper =The Sunday Tribune
pages =
year =
date =12 February 2006
url =

A particularly notorious incident took place after a club match in 1989, in which Canavan had suffered a broken jaw. In what appeared to be a dressing room brawl after the match had finished, the alleged perpetrator received bad facial injuries. It is unclear as to what involvement, if any, Canavan had in the brawl, but his name is often connected with the incident.

However, this indiscipline could not be said to have always been at his instigation, as he was usually singled out for the attention of the tougher tacklers of opposition teams because of his skill. [cite web| url = | title=Kerry team filled tanks with negativity before big game| accessdate=2007-03-04 |date = 2003-09-04| publisher = | author= Aidan Kilpatrick] [cite web | url = | title= My end of season awards | accessdate = 2007-05-05 | author = Jerome Quinn | publisher = "BBC Sport" | date = 2001-09-26]


External links


* [ Hoganstand GAA Immortals]
* [ Official Tyrone Website]
* [ Errigal Ciarán Official Website]
* [ Brief biography of Canavan along with all the other Tyrone players following their win over Down in the Ulster final in 2003]
* [ Culture Northern Ireland Bio]

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