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Cavanagh and Vernon put family ties on hold for Tyrone v Armagh clash

 

By John Campbell

Tyrone skipper Sean Cavanagh is preparing to come up against a familiar foe when his side face Armagh on Saturday in a Croke Park All-Ireland football championship quarter-final that has gripped the imagination of the entire country.

The contest between these neighbours and deadly sporting rivals will see the Red Hands full-forward come face to face with his brother-in-law Charlie Vernon, the long-serving Armagh full-back.

And while Cavanagh acknowledges that this could be his last game against the Orchard County - indeed possibly his final curtain-call at Croke Park - the positives from his perspective far outweigh the negatives.

For a start, Tyrone go into the match having retained their Ulster title and with the benefit of a three-week break from action behind them, as well as having honed their competitive juices in the demanding arena of Division One earlier in the year.

In contrast, Armagh were unable to haul themselves out of Division Three, then lost their Ulster Championship quarter-final to Down but have since overcome Fermanagh, Westmeath, Tipperary and Kildare in the qualifiers.

Like Cavanagh , Vernon (left) has continued to be an influential figure in his side providing both leadership and inspiration as manager Kieran McGeeney undertook major surgery on his line-up.

Few have dissected Armagh's unexpected renaissance in greater detail nor indeed with more interest than Moy accountant Cavanagh. And his own imminent personal duel obviously figures highly in his thinking.

"Our paths have crossed a few times but there will be nothing said between Charlie and myself on the pitch," insists Cavanagh.

"At this stage we both know each other very well. But there could maybe be a few quiet days next week no matter what happens!"

"Look, we're probably both professional people and we know that whatever happens on the field on Saturday will stay there. Generally, both of us are not the dirtiest of players so I don't think we will be leaving too much on each other."

Indeed, Cavanagh (above) not only highlights the sporting bond between himself and Vernon but maintains that in the recent past Tyrone and Armagh have had a high regard for each other.

And he adds: "I think deep down there has always been a mutual respect between Armagh and Tyrone. I see that within my own club Moy where the split is maybe 75 per cent Tyrone and 25 per cent Armagh.

"No matter what happens, the respect between the two counties will remain. They have a ridiculous amount of respect for each other."

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