Friday 23 February 2018

Cavanagh sets up revenge mission for Tyrone

Tyrone 3-19 Roscommon 1-14


TYRONE put in a substantial second-half shift in Croke Park yesterday to set-up a mouth-watering All-Ireland quarter-final showdown with Dublin next Saturday evening.

Holding just a one-point lead at the break and looking on as Roscommon shot a series of wides, Mickey Harte emptied his bench to good effect in the second half.

As Roscommon ran out of ideas Tyrone slowly turned the screw, scoring two late goals to polish off the performance and send a message of intent to Pat Gilroy's Dublin.

Their second-half display was energetic and industrious and they had 11 different scorers throughout the 70 minutes. There are not many inter-county sides with such raw materials at their disposal.

The game also saw the return to clinical form of Sean Cavanagh, who scored 2-3 from the centre of the field -- and also hit the post. His rejuvenation is now almost complete at a crucial stage of the season. When Cavanagh is firing on all cylinders, silverware is not usually far off.

His first goal was a thing of beauty and his second another splendid individual effort. At the death, full-forward Mark Donnelly added a third goal to put somewhat of a false look on the scoreboard. After all, Roscommon were well in the game until the 55th minute, mainly thanks to the efforts of the experienced Karol Mannion, a close runner-up to Cavanagh for man-of-the-match.

"We are delighted with the win," said Harte. "I thought that in the first half we were not playing with any of the fluency that we had shown in the previous few weeks.

"In the opening half we were sucked into the one side of pitch and it didn't help us. But I think we addressed that half time and the second half performance was better.

For the neutral, this was a wide-open affair from the off with acres of space in both forward lines which made for attractive, fast-flowing football.

There were mass changes in the Tyrone defence with centre-back Conor Gormley moving to corner-back for the start and wing-back Sean O'Neill switching positions with corner-back Ryan McMenamin.

Roscommon manager Fergal O'Donnell let Donie Shine hover around the edge of the square and Conor Gormley was left with the task of dealing with Senan Kilbride. That was no easy gig. Kilbride showed serious mobility and quick-thinking to fire over three early points. Doing that against a player with the quality of Gormley is no small feat.

Meanwhile, Joe McMahon was having his own issues with Shine. One wondered would Mickey Harte make early changes to his defence with so many scores being conceded.

Perhaps he was settled by the form of Sean Cavanagh who rolled back the years to deliver a display close to his energetic best. The Moy man revelled in a more attacking role and had 1-3 notched up before 30 minutes.

Even though Roscommon more than held their own from the kick-outs, they were helpless to watch Cavanagh surge forward time and again. Once he took flight, his brother Colm and Peter Harte came in diagonally from the wing hoping for scraps. It created massive space for the Ulstermen and allowed Harte, Brian McGuigan, Kyle Coney and Colm Cavanagh to raise flags in a frenetic opening half.

They needed all those scores because Roscommon, ditching their dismal Connacht final form, decided to have a go.

They threw off the shackles and went bull-headed for the Tyrone goal each time. Shine, like Kilbride, hit 0-3 but the score of the half went to the veteran Karol Mannion. After 26 minutes Pascal McConnell came out to punch a Cathal Cregg delivery and the ball went over McMenamin's head and straight to Mannion who swivelled past the Tyrone defender and smashed home a darting effort to the right corner of the net.

That put the Rossies' 1-7 to 0-6 ahead but a minute later Cavanagh, after gaining possession from Harte, went on that lung-bursting solo run. The sea parted in front of him and he rifled home a delicious goal. Both teams added further points to leave it 1-9 to 1-8 at the interval.

Mickey Harte brought in Owen Mulligan and Brian Dooher at the break and after the industrious Mannion opened the scoring for the Connacht side, the Tyrone boss saw his men tack on six rapid-fire points courtesy of Brian McGuigan, Mark Donnelly, Philly Jordan, Harte, Sean O'Neill and Mulligan to leave them five points down.

And then just as the vocal northern support was making their All-Ireland semi-final plans, momentum swung back to Roscommon.

The excellent Mannion struck another blow from play while Kilbride and Shine found their range from frees, Shine this time kicking out of the hand. It just left two points in it with 20 minutes to go.

But from there, Tyrone took control. With all their big names back on the field they surged further clear before those late goals from Cavanagh and Donnelly left Roscommon to consider what might have been after a stirring first half.

"We have a very young team and they worked extremely hard," said Fergal O'Donnell. "I think it could be five years before some of these lads get the necessary experience for this level."

Dublin now await Tyrone. "I think Dublin will start as favourites for the next day," said Harte. "But in fairness to Dublin it's not right that they should be left waiting four weeks for a game. It's not right and it's a problem easily fixed."

Scorers -- Tyrone: S Cavanagh 2-3 (1f), M Donnelly 1-1, P Harte 0-4 (3f, 1'45), K Coney, B McGuigan, C Cavanagh 0-2 each, P Jordan, E Mulligan, S O'Neill, K Hughes, C Gormley 0-1 each. Roscommon: K Mannion 1-2, D Shine 0-4 (2f), S Kilbride 0-4 (1f), D McDermott 0-2, C Cregg, J Rogers (f) 0-1 each.

Tyrone: P McConnell; C Gormley, M Swift, Joe McMahon; S O'Neill, R McMenamin, P Jordan; K Hughes, S Cavanagh; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte; T McGuigan, M Donnelly, K Coney. Subs: B Dooher for T McGuigan (h-t), E Mulligan for K Coney (h-t), Justin McMahon for R McMenamin (50), D Harte for M Swift (62), S O'Neill for B McGuigan (71)

Roscommon: G Claffey; S McDermott, N Carty, S Purcell; D Keenan, P Domican, D Ward; M Finneran, K Mannion; S O'Grady, K Higgins, C Cregg; D McDermott, S Kilbride, D Shine. Subs: D O'Gara for K Higgins (41), N Daly for S O'Grady (50), J Rogers for D McDermott (56), C Devaney for D Ward (67), E Kenny for M Finneran (69).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

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