Thursday 14 December 2017

Cavanagh praises current Tyrone squad as 'much stronger' than predecessors

Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Sean Cavanagh may have three All-Ireland football titles but the current Tyrone squad is "hand on heart much stronger" than any of those he has played with before, he has suggested.

Cavanagh was speaking after Tyrone's double scores victory over Derry in what will be his last Ulster Football Championship.

The quality of the players around him has convinced him to remain on as an inter-county player over the last two seasons.

"It (strength-in-depth) has been there for the last couple of years," he said. "For one reason or another, when it has come to the big games in the last couple of years we have not kicked on. We just have to hope that this might be the year where we might click and we might be able to kick on."

Criticism over Tyrone's lack of cutting edge has built steadily but Cavanagh wasn't surprised that they hit 22 scores against Derry.

"No matter what is written I can see the talent is there. Against Mayo we probably kicked 14 or 15 wides in Omagh so if we had scored 20 points that day it would not have surprised me either," he observed.

"I have not bought in, and I would say most of the guys I the changing room have not bought in either, to the things that have been written."

The opening three Ulster Championship games have now been won by a cumulative margin of 42 points and Cavanagh accepts that the province has lost some of its lustre and is now a two, even three tier in standard.

"I suppose the results suggest that," he said. "As players, we probably don't feel that. I certainly don't feel it because I have played for 15 seasons where the games have been gruelling. I remember Derry coming to Omagh in 2006 and smashing us. I have those scars from playing Derry, from playing Monaghan.

"I suppose in the last few years it has produced some one-sided games. There is no getting away from that so I could forgive some of the younger players if they don't see the Ulster championship as the competitive one that the older guys would see."

However, Cavanagh expects normal Ulster service to be resumed when they meet Donegal in less than three weeks time.

"It is six or seven weeks since we played down in Killarney, but this gets us into the groove again. We have to know that it will not be like this in three weeks time. Donegal blew us out of the water up in Ballybofey that Saturday night in the league and I am sure that they were looking on knowing that they are not going to give us the space that we got there against Derry."

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