Colm Cavanagh steps out of the shadows to lift Tyrone
Ulster champions Tyrone find themselves in Division Two after a miserable and unproductive league campaign.
But one player in particular used the league as a springboard to bigger and better things.
Moy’s Colm Cavanagh emerged from the giant shadow of older brother Sean, conjuring up four goals and two points from the midfield.
“It was a major disappointment to be relegated as every player wants to play Division One football”, said Cavanagh.
“You only had to be in the changing room after we lost our last game to Dublin to see how big a blow it was to the players and management team.
“There were however positives to take out of it as we beat Kerry as well as a Cork side who are probably the best team in the country right now.
“The expectation levels may not be as high this year going into the championship and that’s a good position to be in as we have experienced that all in the past.”
Colm stepped into the midfield engine room during the league and produced a number of top notch displays alongside Aidan Cassidy.
But now that the latter has been ruled out of the championship with a broken ankle he has little time to forge another partnership but he is looking forward to the challenge.
From a personal point of view he was happy with the way he performed during the league.
“I’m used to playing midfield with the club and while county football is a big step up, I enjoy the freedom that position gives you and hopefully I can continue playing there,” he said.
“The loss of Aidan is a massive blow to us as he was our best player throughout the league.
“I’ve played along with him since minor level so I know how important he is to the team and hopefully he can return to action later in the year.
“The thing about this Tyrone squad though is that the competition for places is as intense as ever with the likes of Kevin Hughes and my brother Sean proven midfielders at this level.
“ Joe and Justin McMahon have also returned from injury as have Brian Dooher and Stephen O’Neill so it’s not all doom and gloom for us at the minute.”
But Cavanagh acknowledges that Sunday’s game is a potential banana skin for the Ulster champions.
“Antrim have progressed this season in the league and the confidence that the St. Galls players will add to their squad will give them a tremendous boost,” he said.
“We can’t afford to be complacent as they are a very good side who almost beat Kerry in the championship last year.
“A lot of people have said that the Ulster championship doesn’t mean as much any more and that you are safer going through the backdoor.
“But I can assure you that’s not the thinking in Tyrone.
“We cherish being Ulster champions and we will give it all that we have in the hope of retaining the title. We want to go through the front door because once you go into the qualifiers anything can happen in an open draw.
“There is no doubt that the Ulster championship will once again be highly competitive.”
Tyrone: P McConnell, M Swift, Justin McMahon, D Carlin, D Harte, R McMenamin, P Jordan, K Hughes, C Cavanagh, B Dooher, S Cavanagh, Joe McMahon, M Penrose, S O'Neill, O Mulligan.