Rising Star Profile: Darragh Canavan maintaining Tyrone motto of ‘No ifs, no buts, no maybes, total faith’

Tyrone Minors lost out in the last ever challenge for Ulster Minor (U18) Championship honours, when falling by the narrowest margin to Derry in round one of the series last week. 

While it was a disappointing end to the U18 challenge, six of the players involved in that squad have since refocussed their attentions to the upcoming Ulster Under 17 Championship final, which now takes over as the premier minor grade from 2018 onwards.

Errigal Ciaran’s rising young star, Darragh Canavan, is a name which has been on many GAA fans lips now for some time and, while many of course refer to the legend that is Darragh’s father, Peter, it is the array of skills which the St. Ciaran’s College student has been exhibiting himself on the field which has really taken hold.

Darragh has starred for club, school and county already in 2017 and many people may not know that he is also a highly talented young handballer who has already won provincial and All Ireland titles in that GAA code too.

With the Ulster U17 Championship final v Cavan coming up in just one week’s time, Tyrone Life caught up with Darragh to being the latest in our “Rising Star Profiles” and we wish him well in the preparations for that next big test…

Rising Star Profile…
Darragh Canavan
Errigal Ciaran & Tyrone

Achievements to date in:

Football: Ulster schools Maclarnon Cup, Ulster schools rafferty cup, Ulster schools Treanor cup, Ulster Minor league

Handball: Ulster doubles winner, All Ireland doubles winner, Tyrone doubles winner, Tyrone singles runner up, All Ireland schools runner up

Other: getting through 2 hours of biology 2 days a week all year

“Winning the schools first MacLarnon Cup on St Patrick’s Day was class”. Photos by Jim Dunne


Best memory with Errigal Ciaran underage football teams up to present day with minors:

Winning our own club’s Tournament, the Myles McCann, at Under 12 for 2 years in a row

Best and worst Sporting memories overall which gave stood out for you so far:

Best – winning the schools first MacLarnon Cup on St Patrick’s Day was class

Worst – getting beat in the all Ireland final after extra time, even though it was still a great experience to play in Croke Park

Tyrone Under 17 team celebrate winning the Ulster league title in April and now plan for an Ulster Under 17 Championship final with Cavan on 11th June.

You have reached the age of 75, are sitting in a ‘rocking chair’ and looking back at your life. What things would you be hoping to look back on positively that you have done in…

Sport (any): achieved as much as possible and have no regrets

Business/Career: earn a bit of money

Travel to: Austraila – would be class!

Something extraordinary you have done: I’d like to do a skydive at some stage

Something you did in your Community: Coached some teams and maybe inspired some to be the best that they can be.

You achieved this one big ambition? What is it? To have represented my club at senior level as best as I could have done

Football… Tell us about…

Best 3 players you played with – what’s their best trait?

Best 3 players you played against?

Best match you’ve been involved in?

All Ireland schools final – even though we came out on the wrong side

Best football match you’ve seen?

Ballinderry v Errigal 2012

Training drill that you think “oh no”?

Any tackling drills are woeful

Best training drill you have done?

Anything that isn’t tackling!

Winning the Ulster MFL (U18) with Tyrone in April 2017

Tyrone GAA Academy – best points about it, how you’ve improved?

  • meeting and getting on with lads from other clubs
  • getting to train and play with the best players from different clubs in tyrone
  • getting coached at the highest level

One thing you think will change in Gaelic football in next 10 years?

Hopefully football will become a bit more attacking and less emphasis will be placed on blanket defenses

Watching your Dad playing – one memory stands out that he done on a football field?

Getting sent off in an Ulster final!

Best words of wisdom Peter passed on to you for your own playing career?

‘Run for the ball would ye!’

Handball… Tell us about…

Your involvement in the sport:

I got involved in it when I was in primary school and thoroughly enjoyed it from the very start. I’ve been lucky enough to have had great coaches who helped to improve me as a handballer.

Darragh Canavan (2nd from left, back row) was a member of the Tyrone GAA Handball squad who contested and won an All Ireland GAA Handball Championship final in 2014

Best things about the sport of handball:

  • Getting to travel all over Ireland to play in competitions
  • Getting to meet new people from different parts of the country
  • Great craic!

Darragh Canavan in action at the 2012 World Handball Championships in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin

Best competition/event you played in and why?

The Paddy Grogan Memorial Tournament in Carrickmore. Great opportunity to play against the best at my age.

Club Life…

3 things really good about Errigal Ciaran Club?

  • the support that the whole club gets from the community and those associated with it
  • brilliant coaches at all levels
  • great facilities

Dunmoyle – Errigal Ciaran GAA’s home ground

Greatest memory watching your club in any match or competition?

Watching the seniors win the O’Neill cup in 2012 was very special for the club

3 Characters in your Club?

  • Jamie McMenamin
  • Mark McAnenly
  • Pauraic McNelis

What other sports/hobbies do you play or are involved in – what you like most about it? 

Play a bit of Basketball at the back of the house the odd time – its deadly craic!

For fun…

Funniest Laugh out Loud Scene in a Movie:

Anchorman – fight scene

Put a name of someone you know to the characteristic below:

Confident: Peter McCartan

Great craic: Pauraic McNelis

One liners: Aaron McAnenly

Scary: Stevy Quinn

Tough: Conor McAleer

Fast: Jamie McMenamin

Skillfull: Mark McAnenly

Genius: Kyle McMenamin

Trendsetter: Cathair Quinn

Funniest person you know? One sentence that best describes them?

Mark McAnenly – complete eejit

Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting image doubles’:

Daniel Millar and Chesney from Coronation Street

Gaelic football… Your choice… 

U17 or U18 football – u18

Black Card or Sin Bin – Sin Bin

15 or 13 aside – 15

SkyTV or RTÉ – RTE

Stephen O’Neill or Owen Mulligan – Owen Mulligan

Aidan O’Shea or Michael Murphy – Michael Murphy

Lee Keegan or Diarmuid Connolly – Diarmuid Connolly

Joe Brolly or Pat Spillane – Joe Brolly

Darragh Canavan in action v Derry in the recent Ulster MFC encounter

My tips:

Winner of 2017 Ulster Minor FC (U18): Derry

Winner of 2017 Ulster Senior FC: Tyrone

Winner of 2017 All Ireland Minor FC (U18): Kerry

Winner of 2017 All Ireland Senior FC: Dublin

2017 Footballer of the Year: Brian Fenton

2017 Minor Footballer of the Year (outside of Tyrone): David Clifford


My favourites…

Gaelic Footballers: Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Geaney

Players from Errigal Ciaran: Paul Traynor  and Conor Quinlivan

Players to play for Tyrone: Niall Sludden and Mark Bradley

Sports: Gaelic football and handball

Sportstars: Lionel Messi, Muhammad Ali and Steph Curry

Celebrities: Stone Cold and Daniel Craig

Band/Singer: Ed sheeran

Music Video: The school done a really dodgy shake it off video that i was a part of…


TV Shows: Prison Break and Friends

Movie: Anchorman

Food: Pizza

Place (For a nite out)

Vale – while spot

Place (apart from home):


Sports Venue:

Croke park

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter? Why? Instagram – some funny stuff up on it

Best thing on the internet?

Old sports videos

Inspirational Quote you like?

‘No ifs, no buts, no maybes, total faith’

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