All-Ireland quarter-final: Colm can be top dog in Cavanagh house
Colm Cavanagh has lived in the shadow of big brother Sean for longer than he cares to remember.
But all that is about to change after the younger Cavanagh lit up a disappointing Ulster final with a superb solo goal.
You sensed a goal like that was always on the cards, for the Moy stalwart looked the part during Tyrone’s league campaign even though it ended in relegation.
There had been suggestions in certain quarters that the provincial championship had been devalued and no longer had the status it once enjoyed.
But Colm Cavanagh rubbishes such talk.
“The whole topic of conversation in the build up to the Ulster final against Monaghan was how Tyrone no longer left any value on winning the Anglo Celt trophy.
“Such talk is pure nonsense and you only had to be in our dressing room after the match to see how much value we felt on retaining the trophy,” he said.
“Critics claimed that we were over the hill and that our legs had gone, but I can assure you that’s far from the case.
“In the last five or 10 minutes it was there for all to see that the hunger was as great as ever.
“The minute you lose your hunger it’s time to call it quits.”
This afternoon the Ulster champions renew acquaintance with old adversaries Dublin in an eagerly awaited All Ireland football quarter-final.
They show just one change from the side that routed Monaghan in the Ulster final, but manager Mickey Harte is blessed with a number of options such is the squad’s strength in depth.
Providing he’s made a full recovery from a troublesome foot injury, Stephen O’Neill is likely to figure at some stage.
Tyrone’s Championship record against Dublin is impressive, but there’s little danger of Cavanagh or any of his colleagues being in any way complacent.
He said: “It doesn’t matter at this stage of the Championship who you are playing.
“Every team is deserving of the utmost respect. This is arguably the strongest ever line up for the quarter-finals as the teams who have come through are all pure quality.
“This season Dublin have come through the backdoor route to the quarter-finals and it means there hasn’t been the same degree of hype that you normally associate with Dublin sides.
“They are in a great position with low expectations for a hange and that just might allow them to express themselves more than in the past.”
Colm Cavanagh and Kevin Hughes have won all three of their midfield battles in the Championship to date and the Moy man is anticipating a formidable Dublin challenge.
“Dublin’s midfielders are very mobile and we’ll have our work cut out but we’re relishing the challenge,” he said, referring to Michael Macauley and Eamon Fennell.
Former Down full back Conor Deegan has his own particular take on Dublin’s lack of success.
He explained: “What’s been wrong with Dublin football for too long is that they were more concerned with what cars and boots they were getting.
“But manager Pat Gilroy has come in and is now getting rid of all the prima donnas.
“Dublin will put it up to Tyrone, but in the final analysis the Ulster champions appear to have too much class.”
Tyrone v Dublin (Croke Park, today, 4pm)
Justin McMahon v Eoin O’Gara
O’Gara scored two goals against Louth last weekend in Croke Park but is something of a novice and so much depends on how he copes with big match atmosphere. Can win ball but is often too one dimensional and will find himself living off crumbs in his head-to-head with McMahon who just keeps getting better and better with each passing game.
Cathal McCarron v Bernard Brogan
McCarron has the physicality to stand up to Brogan and that’s important. He will take heart from the fact that Brogan wasn’t overly impressive last week against Louth.
McCarron is a very committed and resolute corner back and will keep a tight rein on the Dublin dangerman.
Colm Cavanagh v Michael Macauley
The Tyrone man will go into the match on a high after his Ulster final display. You sense he will revel in the Croke Park atmosphere while at the same time hoping to continue where he left off in the provincial decider. Macauley is just the latest in a long line of quality Dublin midfielders. This game will determine if he has a future in the Dublin colours.