No honeymoon spell at Tyrone, says Colm Cavanagh
Colm Cavanagh, Tyrone's man of the match in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-final victory over Fermanagh, had only arrived home from his honeymoon on Wednesday.
Cavanagh, an All-Star nominee in 2015, quipped: "The last time I played a game of football was the last weekend of October and a lot has happened between then and now!
"I was glad to get the full game under my belt because that was important coming into the National League over the next few weeks and I'm delighted to be back out again.
"It was a bit of a surprise when I heard that I was starting as I was only home late on Wednesday night so I was still getting over things. It's important to get match minutes under your belt because no amount of training can prepare you for a game situation."
Once he slotted into his now-familiar sweeper role protecting the full-back line, it was as if he had never been away. Cavanagh's clever anticipation and ability to field high balls in the Tyrone square gave his side authority and assurance as they wrestled control over their neighbours after Eoin Donnelly's dismissal.
It's hard to believe that Mickey Harte first used him as a sweeper only last season.
"It's always a work in progress," he said of his new detail. "When I first went into that role last year it was a bit of a shock to the system as I was never traditionally a defender but you grow into these things and the likes of the keeper and the defenders around me certainly help to keep me right."
He admitted that Fermanagh gave them a number of problems before they took complete control with Connor McAliskey's goal.
"We struggled for scores early on and credit has to go to Fermanagh as they got a lot of men behind the ball and made us shoot from difficult angles and we kept missing. But we were confident that we were going to open up the gaps in the second-half and that's the way it turned out," he said.
The Moy man shares his manager's enthusiasm for the January competition.
"I'm in agreement with Mickey that the McKenna Cup is a great competition and it stands to you well at the start of every season. It gives players crucial competitive games. The more games the better and next weekend will be another good outing before the beginning of the League," he added.
It also gives them another look at Derry before the league and Championship meetings later in the year.
"That's just one of those things the way things worked out. There was the O'Fiaich Cup before Christmas and obviously the McKenna Cup in the group stages and now we have the final on Saturday night and I'm looking forward to the challenge," Cavanagh commented.
"Derry is a massive challenge every time that you play them no matter what the competition is and Saturday's encounter will be no different.
"It was important for us to get the five games in the McKenna Cup and it just so happens to be Derry again and no doubt Derry will be looking forward to it too. It will stand to both sides going into the league."