Friday 18 January 2019

Duty calls as Rhode shorn of star couple

Sullivan and Kavanagh out of Leinster title bid

Anton Sullivan of Rhode (right) in action against Niall McMahon of Simonstown Gaels
Anton Sullivan of Rhode (right) in action against Niall McMahon of Simonstown Gaels

Having delayed his tour of duty with the Irish army until the last available opportunity, Anton Sullivan will now step out of Rhode's Leinster club bid and on to a flight bound for the Lebanon in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

It was, both he and the club knew, inevitable that Sullivan and team mate Jake Kavanagh would make such a trip, it's just that their timing has proved hugely unfortunate, with Rhode now heavy favourites to make a fifth Leinster final in a decade.

With St Vincent's on the other half of the draw, the loss of a such an important pair could be crippling for the Offaly side.


As Paschal Kelleghan noted after Sunday's gutsy win over Simonstown in Tullamore: "We can't afford to be without guys, but what can we do, there is nothing we can do about it."

Sullivan is four years in the defence forces now and having signed a five-year contract which includes the requirement to complete one such tour of duty, his options have run out.

"My contract is up next September, so if I don't fulfil that before then I'm out of work basically," he explained.

"I don't have a job then. I can not go and see out the rest of my contract but then come September they'll just say, 'Have a good day'.

Based in Costume Barracks in Athlone, the pair were due to leave two weeks back but Rhode's need saw them postpone their departure.

They'll miss the provincial semi-final against Louth team Seán O'Mahony's in two Sundays time and while a brief return for a potential Leinster final isn't completely ruled out, it doesn't currently appear doable either.

"I suppose we'll try," confirmed Sullivan. "We'll look into it, see what we can do but as of now, there's no go."

"I could be going worse places," he reckons.

"There's different companies and we'll be part of one where it's not too bad. We'll be just training and doing our own thing basically.

"If we're needed, we're there as a back-up. If something goes wrong we're in reserve really, so it's really just going out and training and keeping your head down and just getting through the days, that's all really.

Sullivan maintains that the trip is " a good life experience," but acknowledges it has come "at a bad time for me."

"I sat down with (Offaly manager) Pat Flanagan during the week and I had a good chat with him for what to do coming back in February," he explained.

"So that when I'm back, I'm ready to slot in for the three weeks when I'm home.

"And then when I come back in May I've seven weeks to prepare for the Westmeath game

"So at least I've something to work towards," Sullivan concluded.

"It's not all doom and gloom."

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