RORY KAVANAGH AND EAMON MCGEE’S inter-county careers were at a crossroads in August 2013 following Donegal’s hammering at Mayo’s hands in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
With neither of the pair on the pitch at the final whistle, Jim McGuinness’s side had been decimated 4-17 to 1-10 by the Connacht champions at Croke Park. It was a far cry from victory over the same side 11 months beforehand – a victory that would bring Sam Maguire to the Hills for only the second time.
Photo caption: Donegal captain Michael Murphy and Charlie Collins of Donegal Sport Hub join former Donegal midfielder Rory Kavanagh (centre) at the launch of his autobiography ‘Winning’ at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny last month
In an extract from his new autobiography titled ‘Winning’ Kavanagh recalls the scene following the battering from Mayo …
As we drowned our sorrows, a few of the lads dubbed it… ‘The Rory Kavanagh and Eamon McGee Retirement Party’.
We decided to go somewhere quiet, so we headed for Downings. It was where it started for us all under McGuinness, and in August 2013 it seemed like the place it would end as well.
I’d been substituted against Mayo and Eamon was sent off. We’d not even said much about possible retirement but at the same time, we fuelled the fire.
‘We’re gone,’ we’d both say… ‘… gone!’
And we were soon gone. [My wife] Kathryn arrived in Downings to pick us up. She was double-jobbing; she was told by Eamon’s girlfriend to get him home as well.
We had poor Kathryn tortured the whole way home. We were soon plonked at my kitchen table, eating crisps and talking shite.
Kathryn popped her head in the door. As she turned for the living room, she said, ‘aren’t you two boys glad you’re home?’
Eamon shook his head, looking at me in disgust.
‘Eamon McGee doesn’t take orders from anyone,’ he then said, for some reason now speaking in the third person.
Our discussion, getting increasingly serious now – no shite talk – turned to how could we get out again? The evening was still young.
After all, it was OUR retirement party. We’d our ups and downs in our careers but sitting at my kitchen table eating Hunky Dorys buffalo flavoured crisps on a Monday night would’ve been a sad way to go out.
We needed a plan.
With no key for the back door and with Kathryn watching television in the other room, our main avenue of escape out the front door was blocked.
‘I’m outta here,’ Eamon said, as he walked towards the kitchen window.
‘Headed for the town.’
I turned to watch a 6 feet 2 inches, 14-and-a-half stone man try to manoeuvre his way out my kitchen window. But he did, and off he went into the darkness. I sat there for a minute or two, thinking.
I sized up the window.
I’d a bit more difficulty than Eamon but was making commendable progress. I’d swung a leg out the window.
Now, I was half-in and half-out. Just as I was about to lift the other leg, the kitchen door opened. It was Kathryn.
And she just stared at me.
I stared back at her.
We didn’t say anything for a minute. We just continued to stare at one another. And stare some more.
I had a look on my face, like the little boy who has just got caught with his hand in the biscuit jar.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ she demanded.
I was still staring.
‘Eamon’s away out the window,’ I replied.
‘I better go get him.’
I swung over my left leg and landed safely in the back garden.
I took off, still wondering how far he had gone.
I soon found him. He was out at the entrance to the estate, waiting on a taxi. We flagged one down and off we went into the night.
Nobody tells Eamon McGee what to do.
McGee recalls what happened later that night …
This wasn’t funny when we had to come back home https://t.co/VWMT3fZBBC
— Eamon Mc Gee (@EamonMcGee) November 5, 2015
‘Winning – How Donegal changed the game forever’ is available to buy in Letterkenny at Eason’s, Evolve Menswear, Clarke’s Newsagents, Macs Mace, Dry Arch Filling Station and at the Oldtown Shop. It is also available throughout the county and nationally at Eason’s and all good book stores and can be purchased on Amazon.