Tuesday 15 October 2019

'I'm hoping they come to the party' - Sean Cavanagh picks out one team who can stop five in-a-row 'procession'

Former star Cavanagh expects Red Hands to bounce back from Donegal defeat

Suits us: Sean Cavanagh believes that Tyrone’s form will benefit from a run through the
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Suits us: Sean Cavanagh believes that Tyrone’s form will benefit from a run through the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The chasing pack is, Seán Cavanagh reckons, doing little in the way of chasing just now.

Last weekend completed the set, as far as the All-Ireland semi-finalists were concerned, as Galway joined Tyrone and Monaghan in exiting their provincial race and, generally, failing to show anything that might even hint at closing the gap to the Dubs.

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"It's going to take a phenomenal performance to take them (Dublin) down," Cavanagh reckoned. "Do I think it's going to happen? I never thought they were unbeatable, I never thought any team in any sport was unbeatable, but it's going to take a huge improvement.

"I think Kerry, are probably the only team on paper that I feel could go and score enough to take them down. But you're obviously reliant on Dublin not scoring more at the other end. But if Kerry can get that forward unit moving, then they'll definitely do damage. I'm sort of hoping that they're going to come to the party. If they don't, it's a procession for five in a row."

He won't go as far as writing his own Tyrone off, but they have work to do.

Tactically, they have fallen between two stools just now and that was exposed against Donegal. Gone was the defensive solidity so often associated with the county, but it wasn't replaced by the free-flowing football, exhibited, at times, during the league. If Tyrone can get the mix right, they can challenge once more.

"I think everyone is flattering to deceive at the moment except for Dublin. I think to beat Dublin, you are going to have to score 15-20 points and to do that you need that strength up front and you need the Cathal McShanes and Mattie Donnellys firing," he said.

"So I wouldn't completely abandon what they are trying to do, but I think they do have to go back and shut the back door because it looked a little bit naive in that first 20 minutes against Donegal.

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"That isn't the Tyrone way and hasn't been the Tyrone way for such a long time where the ball is being popped over men's heads and there is just a gap, a runway right down the middle of the defence. That doesn't happen.

"So I suspect there were nasty video analysis sessions going on up in Garvaghey the last couple of weeks. But in the long term, they will try and make that a good thing because they will definitely have found out a lot about themselves in Breffni Park."

Tyrone did make the headlines for the wrong reasons after Tiernan McCann picked up a ban for his clash with Donegal's Stephen McMenamin.

"It's disappointing. Tiernan is a very clever guy, he's a pharmacist in his career. I remember after the whole Darren Hughes one (where the Monaghan player ruffled his hair and he fell), speaking to him and he was embarrassed and disappointed by that one.

"One, it should never happen on a field of sport, any of that eye-gouging or mouth-gouging, I don't know what the terminology is for it, but you never want to see that near any sporting field.

"I haven't spoken to him or anyone related to the incident, but to me looking in, it looked like it was a reaction to something.

"It looked like something had gone on, whether it was verbals or something. I don't think you do that ordinarily. That's just my opinion."

Tyrone are without McCann for two games, but Cavanagh expects him to have the chance to feature again this summer.

"The trick now is being able to go back and defensively do what they did the last few years, and be sound there and combine that with the attacking threat they have with Mattie and Cathal McShane up front.

"Losing 'Petey' (Harte) was a big blow, but I think they'll take a lot of learning out of it and sometimes you can go through the qualifiers and take a lot from it, they do need two or three games to find out how they can knit those two styles of play together and if they do that they will be much stronger animal come the 'Super 8s'. There are a few sharks in the water though."

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