Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Sean Cavanagh's scores and grafting abilities were the X factor for Tyrone

Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh after the game

I don't think that Tyrone were that impressive when beating Meath on Saturday night but they are through to the quarter-finals and that's all that matters. In fact I would say that Sean Cavanagh dragged them through to the next round with one of the best individual performances seen in Croke Park for a number of years.

You have to take your hat off to Cavanagh. If he hadn't played as well as he did Tyrone would have been in trouble. We all know that he is capable of scoring and his eight points was a great return but it was his overall work rate that impressed me the most. He is not renowned for his defensive qualities but against Meath he tracked back on a number of occasions and crucially overturned the ball a couple of times.

The Meath full back line dealt well with Tyrone's full forward line although I felt that the quality of ball going in wasn't good, particularly in the first half. The experience that Tyrone had in key areas was also a major factor in their win although they certainly have work to do.

The pace of Eamon Wallace, who is a sprint champion, caused the defence untold problems and no doubt Monaghan will have noted that and I wouldn't be surprised if they started Christopher McGuinness next weekend in their attack.

Once again Tyrone failed to play for the full 70 minutes and that is something that Mickey Harte will be keen to address. Tyrone should have been more than four points in front at the break and for the first 15 or 20 minutes in the second half there was only one side in it as Meath ran them ragged at times.

Mickey though will look at the DVD of the game and have a plan devised for Monaghan. It's the last eight and the championship is wide open and as far as I'm concerned Tyrone have as good a chance of any side of going the whole way.

Monaghan were brilliant against Donegal in the Ulster final but the big question will be can they repeat that level of performance next weekend and I have my doubts. As a footballer it is sometimes difficult to get yourself up to the top level a couple of games in a row.

While Tyrone have reached the quarter-finals without being that impressive Monaghan have produced the display of the summer to date and they have to go and do it all over again.

The media though will do a lot of their work for them as they will probably say that Donegal had an off day in the Ulster final and that Monaghan were perhaps fortunate but that isn't the case.

They have won an Ulster title after a 25-year gap and anything now is a bonus and it will be up to the players if they want to push on to a new level.

Malachy O'Rourke, Ryan Porter and Leo McBride know Tyrone football inside out and they won't have to do any video analysis on the Tyrone players as they will know all their strengths and more importantly their weaknesses. They will probably play a different system to the one that they deployed against Donegal and will feel that they will benefit more from taking the game to Tyrone.

Donegal returned to winning ways against Laois but I think that the Mayo draw is the one that they didn't want.

People have been saying that if this was the final Mayo would lose but they are a different proposition in the quarter-final.

Donegal have injuries at the moment that they didn't have last year but the one big thing that they were missing against Monaghan was hunger and its only when you are in the white heat of championship battle that you know if you have that hunger and Donegal may be found wanting again.

Cavan are further than they would have expected to be and have nothing to lose now.

They struggled to beat London but will relish a battle with Kerry and I think that game will be closer than people think.

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