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Tyrone have the wind in their sails after win over Cavan

Tyrone 0-10 Cavan 0-08

By Kevin Kelly

Published 01/02/2016

On the ball: Tyrone’s Mark Bradley takes control against Cavan at Healy Park
On the ball: Tyrone’s Mark Bradley takes control against Cavan at Healy Park

Tyrone made a winning start to their National League Division Two campaign but they had to work hard for it against Ulster neighbours Cavan at Healy Park yesterday afternoon.

It was a contest that never rose to any great heights with the blustery conditions playing their part as both sides struggled to make an impact.

In the end, two superb long-range points from Connor McAliskey and full-back Justin McMahon won the day for the hosts although they had to live on the edge in the closing stages as the visitors pushed for a goal.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte made one change to the starting 15 that was announced with Mark Bradley coming in at centre-half-forward in place of Peter Harte. Underfoot conditions were poor and the football on show in the opening half certainly matched that.

At times Cavan played as many as 14 men behind the ball but it was a tactic that worked as the hosts struggled to make an impact. Time after time they were overturned when taking the ball into the tackle.

The Red Hands were the better side early on but as the half wore on the Breffni men began to get on top. Tyrone got off to a good start when Bradley sold a superb dummy before splitting the posts with only 50 seconds gone on the clock.

By the eighth minute, though, the visitors had their noses in front thanks to quick-fire points from a Niall McDermott free and a successful Martin Reilly '45'.

Tyrone continued to have the better of possession but when the opportunity arose for scores, their finishing let them down with half a dozen wides in the opening period.

McAliskey levelled matters from a '45' before he won a close-in free which Lee Brennan knocked over as the lead changed hands. Despite Colm Cavanagh and captain Mattie Donnelly being on top in midfield, Tyrone failed to make it count.

Cavan, on the other hand, were making the most of the limited opportunities that came their way with full-forward Eugene Keating sending over a wonderful equaliser from a difficult angle from under the stand.

Brennan converted his second free and then the league debutant took a good point from play after Ronan O'Neill had knocked the ball into his path. That left two between the sides for the first time but it was Cavan who finished the half stronger.

Reilly fired high and over the bar and in first-half injury-time Cavan captain Gearoid McKiernan weighed in with an outstanding effort from the left wing after a strong run to leave it 0-5 apiece at the short whistle.

A McKiernan free edged Cavan in front within two minutes of the restart but Tyrone drew level with an inspirational point from distance from Mattie Donnelly.

His Trillick team-mate Rory Brennan then ventured forward from centre-half-back to hoist over a fine score before a free from half-time substitute Darren McCurry made it three in a row for Tyrone.

The hard-working Cain Mackey, who was superb throughout for the visitors, kept Cavan in touch with a neat score as the minimum separated the two sides going into the last 15 minutes.

It was still anybody's game but it was Tyrone who struck next from an unlikely source, full-back McMahon on target with a brilliant score from out on the right wing with his weaker right foot. Tyrone overturned possession from the next kick out for McAliskey to score from distance and all of a sudden they were three points to the good.

Cavan, though, continued to push and it took a timely interception from Brennan to prevent them from getting in on goal. Full-back Killian Clarke did reduce the deficit but Tyrone held on to get their campaign started with a narrow victory.

TYRONE: M O'Neill, A McCrory, J McMahon (0-1), C McCarron, N Sludden, R Brennan (0-1), T McCann, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly (0-1), C McShane, M Bradley (0-1), C Meyler, L Brennan (0-3, 2f), C McAliskey (0-2, 1 "45"), R O Neill.

Subs: D McCurry (0-1,1f) for L Brennan, K McGeary for O'Neill, P Harte for McShane, C McCann for McCrory, P McNulty for Meyler, B Tierney for Bradley

CAVAN: R Galligan, P Faulkner, K Clarke (0-1), K Brady, C Brady, C Moynagh, F Flanagan, D Givney, G McKiernan (0-2,1f), M Reilly (0-2, 1 "45"), N McDermott (0-1,1f), D McVeety, C Mackey (0-1), E Keating (0-1,1f), J Brady.

Subs: P O'Connor for McDermott, M Argue for Keating, S Johnston for Givney, E Henry for J Brady, B Sankey for K Brady

Referee: D Coldrick, Meath

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