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Tyrone will bounce back: Canavan

By Micheal McGeary

Tyrone legend Peter Canavan has rubbished suggestions that Tyrone football is in crisis.

Four successive defeats, three in the Allianz League and the other in the Dr.McKenna Cup final have set the alarm bells ringing.

At a critical time like this, it’s not the ideal scenario to have difficult league games on the horizon against Cork, Dublin, Kerry and Galway.

Canavan, one of the sport’s most decorated players insists there’s no need to panic.

As a player he exuded coolness and calmness under pressure and it’s those qualities he maintains that will serve Mickey Harte’s men well in the months ahead.

In a reassuring message to Tyrone fans, Peter the Great, a man who could write a book about how to win All Irelands, insists there’s no need to panic.

“Certainly I wouldn’t be alarmed at this stage,” said Canavan. “You have to remember the games they have lost they have been without a number of seasoned campaigners.

“Sean Cavanagh and Stephen O’Neill are a huge loss and it’s a loss that would hurt any county in Ireland. Mickey Harte has also taken the opportunity to blood a lot of the younger personnel.

“In addition, the games they have lost have been by fairly narrow margins.

“It’s also worth noting that in those same games they have been guilty of unforced errors especially in the Monaghan and Mayo matches.”

Canavan, twice an All Ireland senior medal winner with Tyrone, remains upbeat about the prospects for 2010.

Now a highly respected pundit with TV3, he takes heart from some good passages of play in both the Monaghan and Mayo league games.

“Far from being alarmed I wold prefer to see Tyrone struggling at

this time of year and then stepping it up come the championship when all the serious football is played.

“When I reflect on the summer of 2009 I have this feeling that we peaked too soon and that’s always a real danger especially when you look back on the Ulster championship. Then, by comparison with other teams, they were flying and head and shoulders above all other counties.

“But by the time they made it to the All Ireland semi final against Cork they appeared flat.

“Personally I don’t expect that to happen again and that in the concluding stages of the league you will see them winning at least three of their last four matches which I feel would be enough to retain their Division One status.”

Ideally, the Holy Trinity, Cookstown teacher would prefer to see Tyrone retain their Division One status, though he agrees the standard in Division Two has risen appreciably in recent seasons with a number of quality sides pushing for promotion.

“In my own playing days that wasn’t always the case.

“You had a strong and very competitive Division One and that was it. Now there’s a different calibre of team in Division Two, teams who wouldn’t look out of place in Division One.”

The absence of key players during the league campaign has allowed manager Mickey Harte to experiment with fringe players, players who have come through the minor ranks, men now on the cusp of senior football.

Whether they can step into the boots of men who have won two and three senior All Irelands remains to be seen.

“With the young lads playing on heavier pitches at this time of year, it’s possibly unfair passing judgement at this stage as I feel the harder ground the faster game will suit them more, concluded Canavan.

“That’s when the real test comes in the white heat of championship football, but I’m confident everything will be fine.”

Tyrone team to face Cork (Saturday, 7.30pm): J Curran; D Carlin, Justin McMahon, C McCarron; D Harte, C Gormley, R McMenamin; A Cassidy, C Cavanagh; M Donnelly, B McGuigan, R Conway; T Mulgrew, M Penrose, O Mulligan.

Belfast Telegraph

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