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Tyrone prove they are summit special

Tyrone 0-19 Cavan 1-9

By Declan Bogue

In their first year back after their brief fling with Division Two, Tyrone have ascended to the top of Division One, in the process all but condemning Cavan - the side who came up with them - to relegation.

"I am very happy to be top of the league, that's the truth of the matter," said a satisfied Mickey Harte afterwards.

"What more do you want, four games and we are top of the league? You would take that at the start of the season any day.

"The first thing you have to do in Division One is stay away from the relegation. Since we are in that position, it's about how far you can go. It's one step at a time. If we can add points, the next day we go out we will be a better position."

As with many games played at this venue, the breeze that swoops down from the Gortin glens went a long way to deciding the outcome.

When Cavan had the benefit of the wind they used it superbly in the first half. The chief beneficiary was Martin Reilly who landed three special points in that period.

With both sides bringing all players into their own 45 metres while defending, it was extremely cagey stuff. Tyrone only managed two points from play in the first half, midfield partners Colm Cavanagh and Padraig McNulty.

Harte has identified a need for muscle in the inside forward line and this was the first time we could watch how Sean Cavanagh - in his first start of 2017 - and Mattie Donnelly operate together.

If the aim was to create goal chances, the experiment has some way to go. After four games, the only goal Tyrone have to their name is Aidan McCrory's against Dublin. Let's keep a watching brief on that one.

Cavan found the net for the first time in the league as a lamentable first half drew to a close.

As Tiernan McCann failed to cut a ball out, Dara McVeety was able to hand pass it to Conor Madden who showed great presence of mind to flick it on first time to Gearoid McKiernan and the Cavan captain cleverly scooped it over Niall Morgan's head. This left Cavan clear at half-time, 1-8 to 0-7 up.

Tyrone were still two points behind when they sent Mark Bradley on for McNulty with 25 minutes left. Within four minutes, Bradley with two points of his own and setting up Darren McCurry, had wrestled the lead back for the home team.

Just prior to Bradley's introduction, Cavan full forward Conor Madden collected his first point of the game. Impressively from Tyrone's point of view, it was to be the only score they leaked in the second half.

A black card for Darren McCurry allowed Ronan O'Neill onto the pitch and he hit two points from a considerable distance as Tyrone really got into the mood.

A smart performance by Niall Morgan, who was sharply off his line on a couple of occasions, was capped in the 64th minute when he ventured forward to convert a free.

Things will not be as relaxed in their final three games. They have Donegal in Ballybofey this Saturday night, host Mayo the following Sunday before the final game of the season in Killarney against Kerry. A league final is far from a certainty.

Cavan have Mayo, Kerry and Roscommon left. It's not looking great for them.

TYRONE: Morgan 0-1f; Hampsey, McCrory, McCarron; McCann 0-1, McMahon, Brennan; Cavanagh 0-1, McNulty 0-1; Meyler, McGeary 0-1, Harte 0-4f; McCurry 0-1, S Cavanagh 0-3f, Donnelly 0-1

Subs: McNamee for Brennan (half-time), Bradley 0-3 for McNulty (45), Burns for McMahon (51), McCann for McGeary (67)

CAVAN: Galligan; Dunne, K Brady, McLoughlin; C Brady, Moynagh, Reilly 0-3; Corr, McKiernan 1-4, 2f; Smith, McVeety 0-1, Clerkin; Murray, Madden 0-1, O'Connor

Subs: Murray for Brady, Mackey for Murray (half-time), Reilly for McLoughlin (50), McCutcheon for Corr (56), McKiernan for O'Connor (64)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

Attendance: 5,275.

Belfast Telegraph

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