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Action man Mackey aiming to be a spanner in Red Hand works

By John Campbell

It's an ill-wind that blows no one any good. When Liam Buchanan was ruled out of the Cavan team at the 11th hour for last month's Ulster Championship assignment against Armagh, Cian Mackey was ushered in by manager Terry Hyland to fill the breach.

Mackey's all-action contribution when he served as a link between defence and attack ensured that he was not far behind Martin Reilly in the man of the match stakes.

Buchanan is again an absentee for tomorrow's Ulster semi-final clash with Tyrone, Hyland opting for Thomas Corr and Michael Argue at midfield.

For his part, the stocky Mackey is listed at full-forward although there is as much chance that he will play there as is there is that Kyle Lafferty will don the goalkeeper's jersey for Northern Ireland against Germany.

Instead, Mackey can once again prove the heartbeat of the side, his foraging and tackling likely to pose problems for a Tyrone side that has remained unbeaten since mid-December and which has three trophies already under lock and key since then.

"I was obviously pleased to get my chance against Armagh and I was delighted that things went well for the team," says Mackey.

"This is a good Cavan squad but Tyrone will be a very big test for us.

"They beat us in the Division Two final and they are a very settled side with a lot of experience and a defensive system that is difficult to play against."

Mackey's penchant for making interceptions, using the ball intelligently even when his side are on the back foot and bolstering the rearguard when the opposition drives forward could make him invaluable in the context of Hyland's game plan tomorrow. The manager, conscious that his side face a third defeat at the hands of Tyrone since February, makes it clear that he expects his side to show they have absorbed lessons from their Division Two final defeat.

"We have worked on and dissected where we think we went wrong in that game and hopefully we will show an improvement tomorrow," says Hyland.

Given this viewpoint, it's hardly surprising that Hyland will look to the industrious Mackey to play a key role in throwing a spanner in the Red Hands' works.

And the player himself certainly relishes the challenge.

"These are the kind of games that you train all winter for," he asserts.

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