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Eugene Keating the player Tyrone must stop in final

By John Campbell

Martin Dunne may have hit the headlines last year when Cavan enjoyed a stirring championship run that was only ended by Kerry at the quarter-final stage of the All -Ireland series, but right now the Breffni county is deriving its scores from another source.

And no one is more aware of this than Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.

That's why the triple All-Ireland winning boss is planning to ensure that Eugene Keating is effectively shackled in tomorrow's Power NI Dr McKenna Cup final.

Keating, strong and forceful, is currently in inspirational form for Cavan, not just as a finisher but also as a playmaker. In his team's McKenna Cup campaign to date Keating has been on target in all three games posting 0-6 from play against Monaghan, landing three points (two frees) against Down and contributing five scores against Antrim, four of them from frees.

Keating, who plays his club football with St Sylvester's in Dublin, is very much the go-to player in the Cavan attack right now.

Imbued with considerable upper body strength, blessed with the ability to take points from left or right and armed with considerable confidence, the stockily-built Mullagh native will represent a huge threat to Tyrone's hopes of landing the McKenna Cup for the third successive year.

While Martin Dunne, Turloc Mooney, Niall McDermott and Jack Brady are viewed as sharp, elusive forwards, Keating's presence provides the fulcrum to an attack that has functioned smoothly to date this month.

Manager Terry Hyland, along with county board officials, believes that he can become an even more imposing figure up front as the season unfolds, too.

"Eugene has certainly been hitting the target for us and obviously we are hopeful he will make a big contribution against Tyrone on Saturday night," says Hyland.

"We would like to win this trophy. That is our aim and we are very much up for the challenge. The form of players like Eugene gives us encouragement and confidence going in against what is proving to be a very good Red Hands side."

Cavan PRO Declan Woods says Keating's ability to both create and take chances is "absolutely essential" to the team's strategy.

"He is a player who maybe does not always get the credit he deserves but he is extremely talented, very confident on the ball and can make things easy for those around him," adds Woods. "The role that he plays is absolutely essential in terms of our game plan and while Tyrone obviously have good defenders, the challenge for us will be to get enough scores to take us to victory."

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