Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his Cavan counterpart Val Andrews share a common aim as they prepare to go head to head in tonight’s Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup semi-final at Brewster Park, Enniskillen (7.00).
Hot shot: Martin Penrose has been on target for Tyrone but manager Mickey Harte is seeking a better overall return from his attack
Both are anxious to see a greater return of scores from play from their respective forward divisions as their teams seek to book a place in Saturday’s final against Derry.
In going under to the Oak Leaf men in the Allianz Football League at the weekend, Tyrone tended to rely rather too heavily on Sean Cavanagh and Martin Penrose to land points from frees, but Cavan fared even worse in their defeat to Offaly with only two points from their meagre 0-8 total coming from play by forwards who started the game.
It’s little wonder then that the respective managers are hoping that their forwards can produce a more lucrative return tonight.
Harte, anxious to see his side make a prompt return to winning ways, makes it quite clear that chances must be taken.
“We cannot afford to spurn scoring opportunities. We have been creating chances but maybe not taking full advantage of them,” admitted the Red Hands boss.
Brian McGuigan will again pull the strings in his attack tonight but Harte is keeping his fingers crossed that Stephen O’Neill will not be held scoreless again as he was against Derry.
Both Penrose and Cavanagh have been looking sharp in the Tyrone attack and even some of the defenders have been able to pick off points in recent matches.
Skipper Ryan McMenamin believes that the side can mount their rehabilitation tonight although he accepts that Cavan will be difficult opponents.
“When any team reaches a semi-final they want to push on and make the final. There is a big incentive there for both teams tonight,” he maintained.
Ger Pierson (0-2) and Mark McKeever (0-1) certainly made an impact as substitutes for Cavan against Offaly on Sunday and may well find themselves included in the starting line-up tonight while Ronan Flanagan, Seanie Johnston and Michael Brennan are all expected to be in the attack.
This quintet could pose problems for a Tyrone defence that looked distinctly uncomfortable on occasions against Derry, especially when players such as Sean Leo McGoldrick and Declan Mullan produced their blistering pace.
Conor Gormley was withdrawn by manager Harte — it’s not often this happens — and Sean O’Neill was sent in to help bolster the defence.
He may see some game time tonight again while Aidan Cassidy and Kevin Hughes will be expected to gain more of a foothold at midfield.
Having won their three sectional games in the competition, Tyrone had been installed as favourites to lift the trophy.