Long Read - A sit-down with Paddy Kavanagh

15th November 2023

A sit-down with Paddy Kavanagh...By Darryl Geraghty SSE Airtricity League - Bohemians Reporter SSE Airtricity League winner, Setanta Sports Cup winner, goal-scorer in Europe and important appearances with a whole host of top clubs, it's fair to say

A sit-down with Paddy Kavanagh...
By Darryl Geraghty
SSE Airtricity League - Bohemians Reporter

SSE Airtricity League winner, Setanta Sports Cup winner, goal-scorer in Europe and important appearances with a whole host of top clubs, it's fair to say Paddy Kavanagh has given his all to the league for over a decade.

Most people struggle with a work-life balance, but as a professional in the SSE Airtricity League, it’s almost a work & work life balance.

Having recently retired “professionally” from the game, the talented 33-year old felt that the time was just right to wave goodbye to the League he loved.

“I felt the time was right. Trying to balance work and football is hard, almost like two full-time jobs. Being on site for 6am, work all day, straight to training in the evenings, getting home at 9pm are really long days, trust me! 

"Having committed for over a decade, it felt the right thing to do, especially as I feel there is more commitment needed now than ever to play at the standard that’s in the league now.”

The ex-UCD, Bray Wanderers, Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne, Derry City and Bohemians man has quite the C.V. so it’s understandable that it’s not easy to walk away from the game completely and has had offers since his shock announcement on Twitter at the end of February.

“I’m toying with the idea of going back to junior football next season, having previously played for Wayside Celtic, where I won the Senior Sunday Division and Intermediate Cup. 

"But at the moment, I’m doing really well with my company Designer Group and can’t thank them enough for their support, and giving me all the tools needed to really boost my career with them. 

"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing some of the footballing side already.

“Most players would probably say the same, but I already miss the dressing room banter. The buzz from being around the lads nearly every day and I have been lucky to be in some really good dressing rooms, especially the four and a bit years I had with Bohs. 

"It was exceptional and some real characters in the mix but the weird and wonderful stories from Dalymount can only be spoke of over a few pints,” he said with a wry smile.

The twinkle-toed winger, who was a fan favourite everywhere he went, because of that close dribbling style and technical ability, hopes he brought the fans the same joy he felt when hearing his name sung from the stands.

“I also miss entertaining the crowds, and when I was on song, skipping by defenders and feeling the crows rising with the same excitement as I felt, under the Friday night lights, just can’t beat that feeling. You feel the connection and it does lift you as a player.”

As Frank Sinatra famously sang in My Way, “Regrets, I’ve had a few” but in this instance the same just can’t be said by the Dubliner, who went on to say;

“I have absolutely no regrets at all, I’ve loved every minute of the rollercoaster. From entertaining the crowds, dressing room laughs, fights, warts and all. I wouldn’t change a second of it. 

"I’ve had some amazing moments, and what jumps out immediately would be obviously getting a league winners medal with (Shamrock) Rovers in 2010, which not many are lucky enough to do. 

"I’d also have to put scoring in Europe against Trabzonspor for Derry City right up there, that was a special moment, although a disappointing result. And of course, one that will live long in the memory was the now famous ‘Chip Van Goal’ against Rovers.”

Having scored a beautifully struck effort in Bohs 3-1 win against his former side back in February 2018, the now-viral clip of Kavanagh and teammates celebrating in front of the “chip van ladies” was a beautiful site to behold, encapsulating everything that makes it the #GreatestLeagueintheWorld.

As the conversation flowed, the self proclaimed “great electrician” gave a fascinating insight into his thoughts of the modern game.

“For the young players in the league today, like I said, it feels a lot more professional so what they will need to have good careers is the commitment and attitude. 

"I know it’s easy to say, but it makes a huge difference. There is some supremely talented youngsters around the league. I’ve already seen the two kinds of footballers, those who are outside the gym taking pictures for Instagram and those are inside putting in the hard graft, getting it done," Kavanagh said.

"I think social media aspect and attitudes of the younger player would be something potentially putting me off going into the coaching side of the game. I have thought about it, but seems are too many distractions for the young players, so I’m not sure how I’d cope if the lads weren’t giving me the same commitment I’d be giving them.

"On the League itself, I think there’s been an incredible buzz around the domestic game recently and the attendance figures are proving that. We have an unbelievable and unique product mostly being played on Friday nights when not much happens so it’s ideal. 

"The game is dying to grow here and if you couple that with the talent the league has, with the standard of football and entertainment can only get better. So its very exciting times ahead.”

As the mercurial talent now focuses on his blossoming career off the field, which will no doubt be a hugely successful, one I’m sure it’s not the last we have heard of him on the pitch. But if, and a big if, we are not lucky enough to see him lace his boots again, you can be damned sure you’ll hear a rendition of Raglan Road around whatever League of Ireland ground he attends, as “Whack” belts out his favourite Luke Kelly classic with little or no convincing needed.