Sunday 25 August 2019

'They're very much looking forward to playing Tyrone'- Peter Canavan says Donegal have a score to settle

Tyrone's Declan McClure seals victory against Donegal with a late goal. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Declan McClure seals victory against Donegal with a late goal. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Morley

Donegal will face Tyrone in arguably the biggest provincial championship match that this year's football championship has to offer up.

Tyrone beat Donegal in their Ballybofey Super 8's clash last year and Tyrone legend Peter Canavan believes the men from the hills were waiting to settle the score in an Ulster semi-final.

"Yes, Tyrone beat Donegal last year [in the Super 8's] but immediately after the game, the Donegal players and management were very much looking forward to playing Tyrone," said Canavan on The Throw-In podcast, in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

Tyrone have changed their style of play since last year to great effect. Their high-tempo long kicking game gave them an unlikely victory against Dublin in Croke Park during the league and Canavan believes the key to their danger in attack is the speed of their transition play.

However, he is reluctant to read too much into Tyrone's comfortable opening wins in Ulster against Derry and Antrim.

"They are trying to move the ball somewhat quicker, there's no doubt about that. Can we really judge them on performances against two teams who played their football in division four this year? Probably not," said Canavan.

"We'll know exactly how far they've come, with regard to their style of play, when they play Donegal," he added.

The Tyrone legend also heaped praise on Donegal's 'mature' performance against Fermanagh.

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"[Donegal] put in a very mature performance, a very patient performance because Fermanagh were difficult to break down, so whether Tyrone can use and implement their game plan on Donegal while they're sitting back remains to be seen," he said.

Canavan admitted that the change of style had benefited Mickey Harte's team as they have realised their potential in front of the goal.

"[Tyrone] had fourteen different scorers on Saturday night, so look, we can score from various different areas on the pitch and you'd like to think physically they've moved on a wee bit from last year as well," Canavan added.

With Tyrone's move towards a more attacking style of play, they have simultaneously left themselves uncharacteristically open in defense. Irish Independent GAA reporter Michael Verney believes that a higher concession of scores is a necessary disadvantage for the reward of higher scoring rates.

"Tyrone were maybe left a bit open for goals, but that's naturally going to be the case when you've had Colm Cavanagh playing sweeper the last few years and not playing sweeper now," he said.

"But they're scoring a lot more and creating a lot more scoring chances and kicking the ball an awful lot more so that's naturally going to be the case."

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