Safe lift-off a big boost for happy McGleenan
Cavan 1-13 Tyrone 0-12
The prize may be small in the overall scheme of things, but Cavan and Tyrone brought a ferocity and intensity to the pursuit of victory well beyond what might be expected on the opening weekend of pre-season activity.
Eight yellow cards, plus a red and a black, underlined the feisty nature of the action in Kingspan Breffni Park, where Mattie McGleenan got his reign as Cavan manager off to the best possible start.
A crowd of 4,266 - made up mostly of curious Cavan fans keen to make an early assessment of the new regime - enjoyed a game where the newly-introduced 'mark' had little impact.
In fact, there were only two marks (plus one where the referee brought play back) and in both cases the fetch was below waist-level.
McGleenan agrees in principle with the thinking behind the mark, but Mickey Harte is implacably opposed.
"We don't need it in the game. It doesn't add any value and it doesn't make life any easier for the referee. It causes confusion," he said.
He had more direct issues to deal with, specifically the dismissal of Mattie Donnelly on a straight red card in the 66th minute after a clash with Seanie Johnston.
The Cavan captain slumped to the ground, prompting Monaghan referee Martin McNally to dismiss Donnelly, who had come on as a sub at the start of the second-half.
Harte insisted that it was a very harsh decision.
"He (Donnelly) didn't hit him, he didn't punch him. He just had a hand out as he was cutting inside him and to me it was an innocuous enough thing, maybe a yellow card with the way things are going nowadays," said Harte.
Earlier, Cavan had lost Niall McDermott on a second yellow card, one of eight in a game where 12 minutes (five first-half, seven second-half) of stoppage time was played.
That was due to an unusually high number of injuries, with Tyrone bearing the brunt of them. They lost Michael Cassidy and his replacement, Rory Brennan, in the first-half, with Conor McAliskey forced out with what looked like a serious knee injury in the 63rd minute.
By then, a Cavan win was all but assured, as they were six points ahead and playing with a sense of adventure Tyrone couldn't match.
Tyrone tried desperately to rescue the situation through the goal route, but were denied by a combination of excellent defensive work and some sloppy passing. And when Tyrone finally found a way through late on, they were denied by an excellent save from goalkeeper James Farrelly.
Cavan lay the foundations for victory in the second quarter, when a smashing goal by man of the match Gerard Smith in the 19th minute set them on their way to an interval lead of 1-7 to 0-5.
They extended their lead to six points in the second-half, before two late Tyrone points pared it back to four, which was a fair reflection of the overall play.
It was all very pleasing for McGleenan as his new-look side settled in extremely well. Smith, Martin Reilly, Killian Clarke, Johnston and sub Niall McKiernan were especially effective as Cavan stretched Tyrone through the middle and on the fringes.
"The attitude was fantastic and they also showed super workrate, which was very important, especially in the second-half. It's great to get off to a winning start. It sets the tone for the hard work that lies ahead," said McGleenan.
He was especially pleased with the creativity which set up their crucial first-half goal and with Smith's movement, which took him into the scoring zone. It was all done with pace and precision in a sweeping attack.
Harte conceded that Cavan were the better side on a day when Tyrone were left to regret some missed chances in the first-half.
"I think we had five shots short and four wides. If you get no return from nine attacks, it's not hard to see how you could be five points down at half-time. Cavan were more efficient than we were. They were really up or the game - you could see that from the start," he said.
Scorers - Cavan: G Smith 1-2, S Johnston 0-4 (3f), N McKiernan 0-2, N McDermott (f), K Brady, P O'Connor, M Reilly, T Corr 0-1 each. Tyrone: C McAliskey 0-5 (3f), L Brennan 0-3 (1f), R O'Neill 0-2 (2f), C McCullagh, P Harte 0-1 each.
Cavan: J Farrelly; F Reilly, P Faulkner, K Brady; C Brady, M Reilly, N Clerkin; T Corr, K Clarke; J Dillon, N McDermott, S Tierney; G Smith, L Buchanan, S Johnston. Subs: P O'Connor for Buchanan (18), N McKiernan for Tierney (ht), T Mooney for Dillon (46), S O'Rourke for Corr (49), J McLoughlin for O'Connor (64), C Smith for Johnston (67 b/c).
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, J Monroe, R McNabb; M Cassidy, T McCann, N Sludden; D McClure, P McNulty; D McCurry, P Harte, C McCullagh; L Brennan, C McAliskey, R O'Neill. Subs: R Brennan for Cassidy (15), HP McGeary for Brennan (30), M Donnelly for McNulty (ht), R McHugh for McCurry (58), N McKenna for McAliskey (63)
Ref - M McNally (Monaghan)