Saturday 16 December 2017

Givney pounces to earn Breffni men a replay

Tyrone 0-16 Cavan 3-7 Ulster SFC

Ronan ONeill is tackled by Cian Mackey Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ronan ONeill is tackled by Cian Mackey Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

All good things come to an end but maybe not the way you ever expect it.

For seven-and-a-half Championship games, stretching back more than a year, Tyrone had not coughed up one goal.

Then Cavan, who had not scored a goal in any of their four previous meetings, come along and hit them for three, only the third time they have had to suck up such a level of punishment in one match during Mickey Harte's distinguished 14 seasons as Tyrone manager.

Ironically, they didn't lose either of the two previous games (both to Down in 2003 and 2014) and lived to fight another day here too.

The omen won't be lost on Harte that, in each of the three years that they won the All-Ireland, Tyrone have required at least one replay in Ulster.


Gearoid McKiernan in action against Ronan McNamee Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Gearoid McKiernan in action against Ronan McNamee Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

For the Ulster Championship there was at last a meaningful contest after five games where the lowest winning margin has been six points and the average has been more than 10.

When Harte and his forensic team sift through the wreckage of a game they really should have seen out, they won't have to trawl too far to identify the source. Chaos around their own goalmouth led to all three goals that provided Cavan with a lifeline that they had perhaps planned for.

Yet, strange as it may seem, Cavan couldn't really say that their primary tactic of bombarding David Givney with long balls worked that well despite Givney grabbing two of the three goals.

His finish to effectively secure the draw in added time - though Tyrone had chances through Niall Sludden and Darren McCurry from a 45 after that - came courtesy of a well-worked move from close range involving Cian Mackey with a deft pass along the carpet and substitute Ciaran Brady, whose pass across the goalmouth invited Givney to attack.

It squared the match once more after Tyrone had appeared to have done enough to push three clear through the final quarter, holding Cavan scoreless for a second 20-minute-plus stretch.

Similarly, his first goal, after only six minutes, was worked through the hands of Niall Murray and Martin Reilly down the left flank with Reilly's shot being saved by Tyrone goalkeeper Michael O'Neill before Givney stabbed the rebound beneath him.

David Givney in action against Mattie Donnelly Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Givney in action against Mattie Donnelly Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

By that stage Cavan had already directed five long balls in the direction of Givney and Killian Clarke, placed up front initially after Michael Argue's withdrawal from the selected team, in the opening three minutes to little avail and that was a recurring theme. Too often Givney operated in isolation.

That first Givney goal set them up nicely and by the 14th minute Rory Dunne's pass to the impressive Mackey for a point on the run had given his side an early 1-3 to 0-2 platform.

But they didn't score again until just before the break, a 22-minute stretch, when Conor Moynagh's touch to Raymond Galligan's free was sufficient enough to push the ball marginally over the line.

Initially play went on but an eagle-eyed umpire called it and a camera in the goals corroborated it. Umpires have been criticised in the past but this was an extremely sharp call.

It gave Cavan an unlikely 2-3 to 0-8 interval lead but Harte saw some benefit in that for his team.

"It didn't change anything," he reflected. "In many ways we thought maybe it was a good thing. We had clawed ourselves back into it. It wasn't a reflection of it. It was maybe better to be a point down here because we really, over the 35 minutes, didn't deserve to be ahead."

Central to Cavan once again was the quality of Galligan's kick-outs. Like Phil Mickelson's variety of wedge shots, Galligan seemed to have one for every range and trajectory and they got some good positions off it. But in the second half Tyrone worked it out much better and claimed eight of 17 he distributed, a big factor in how it panned out.

David Givney in action against Cathal McCarron Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
David Givney in action against Cathal McCarron Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Tyrone had much longer spells of dominance and apart from Givney's lurking presence around the goalmouth, and Mackey's interventions, they dealt with the other chief Cavan threats.

Gearoid McKiernan was never allowed to build momentum and finished scoreless while Seanie Johnston struggled again in their company and was the first to be replaced.

Further back they had some big performers though. Tomas Corr was industrious and fired over the second point off a crisp Galligan kick-out while Dara McVeety was again destructive and creative in equal measures across the half-back line.

Ronan O'Neill led the Tyrone line impressively. On a day when Sean Cavanagh struggled and all three Tyrone half-forwards were replaced by the 50th minute, O'Neill's touches and opportunism stood out.

He was directly involved in four of their eight first-half points, scoring two, winning a free that he converted and setting up Colm Cavanagh.

He also engineered the most sublime pass of the day late on when he put Padraig McNulty through but the substitute's shot, with Tyrone leading by 0-15 to 2-7, was brilliantly saved by Galligan in the 69th minute.

Cavan's best spell came after the break in response to Tyrone taking back the lead for a second time through the improving Mattie Donnelly. They hit four unanswered points between the 43rd and 49th minutes to claim a three-point lead.

Tyrone will be disappointed that they didn't press on more in that last quarter. Both sides were patient in their build-up but Tyrone seemed to have more zip in them.

The third Cavan goal, coming in similar fashion to a late Armagh goal against Tyrone that earned them a draw in their March League match, disappointed Harte most.

"Given where we were, how much time was left and how we put ourselves in a nice position it's a pity that we did concede it, but it wasn't all our doing, Cavan had a hand in it as well."

Harte credited Cavan for their tactical approach. "Cavan did their homework, they had a good game plan and they executed it very well, we have no complaints. We could have won the game we could have lost it halfway through."

Scorers -Tyrone: R O'Neill 0-5 (3fs), M Donnelly, C McAliskey 0-2 each, S Cavanagh, P Harte, N Sludden, R Donnelly, D McCurry (f), C McShane, C Cavanagh all 0-1 each.

Cavan: D Givney 2-0, C Moynagh 1-0, N Murray, F Flanagan, T Corr, D McVeety, S Johnston (f), R Galligan (45), C Mackey all 0-1 each

Tyrone - M O'Neill 7; C McCarron 7, R McNamee 6, A McRory 7; T McCann 6, N Sludden 8; P Harte 7; C Cavanagh 7, M Donnelly 8; C McShane 6, M Bradley 5, R Donnelly 6; C McAliskey 7, S Cavanagh 6, R O'Neill 8. Subs: R Brennan 6 for Bradley (h-t), C Meyler 5 for McShane (41), D McCurry 6 for R Donnelly (52), P McNulty for McAliskey (63).

Cavan - R Galligan 8; F Flanagan 7, R Dunne 6, K Brady 6; J McEnroe 6, C Moynagh 7, N Murray 7; T Corr 8, G McKiernan 6; D McVeety 8, S Johnston 5, M O'Reilly 6; C Mackey 7, K Clarke 6, D Givney 8. Subs: E Keating 6 for Johnston (58), C Brady for K Brady (65), P Faulkner for Clarke (65), J Brady for Moynagh (67), G Smith for McEnroe (70).

REF - David Gough (Meath).

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