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Cavanagh: Tyrone must throw off the shackles

 

Must win: Mickey Harte is backing Niall Morgan to shine
Must win: Mickey Harte is backing Niall Morgan to shine

By John Campbell

Tyrone triple All-Ireland winner Sean Cavanagh is urging the side to "shake off the shackles" and adopt a more adventurous approach when they face Monaghan in a must-win Allianz Division One clash at Healy Park, Omagh on Saturday (7.00pm).

In common with thousands of Red Hands followers, former Tyrone skipper Cavanagh has looked on almost in disbelief as Mickey Harte's side have slid to the basement of the top tier table with just one point garnered from a possible six to date.

Defeats to in-form Kerry and Mayo, and a last-gasp league point against Roscommon, encapsulate Tyrone's dismal campaign so far and have heaped pressure on the side ahead of the Farney tie.

Another loss would see Tyrone plunged deeper into unfamiliar territory and render the concluding stages of the league that will see them face Cavan (home), Dublin (away) and Galway (home) a fraught exercise.

But Cavanagh believes with a more positive approach, Harte's men can extract themselves from their present difficulties.

"I think it's time for Tyrone to throw off the shackles and press for scores," insists Cavanagh.

"They did that in the second half against Roscommon being six points in arrears and it paid off for them. They were considered lucky to get a draw but they worked hard to earn the point."

Tyrone's overall tally was 0-10 but seven of these points came from frees, with Peter Harte landing five and goalkeeper Niall Morgan two as well as one from play.

Indeed, Morgan's overall influence in the side is more pronounced than ever. Not only is he a proficient shot-stopper but his scoring ratio matches that of many forwards.

"I've believed for a while that he's quite a weapon and we are seeing all of his qualities as a footballer now, never mind as a goalkeeper," agrees Harte.

The onus will be on Tyrone to compile more scores and perhaps hit the Monaghan net.

"We have not been getting enough scores from play and goals have been in short supply. I think if the team shakes off the shackles against Monaghan they will be in with a chance of getting something out of the game," maintains Cavanagh.

"While I accept that zonal marking is important and that things have to be kept tight at the back, it's equally important that we get scores on the board. This helps to give a team confidence.

"Tyrone still have some difficult challenges in the league starting with this game against Monaghan."

Conor Meyler, Hugh Pat McGeary, Kyle Coney, Harry Loughran and Frank Burns all came off the bench to play a part against Roscommon and will be challenging for starting places against Malachy O'Rourke's side, who are just one point better off following their surprise opening day win over Dublin.

The fact that this was followed by defeats to Roscommon and Galway has deflated optimism within Monaghan, for who this could prove a seminal season, certainly in championship terms.

Manager O'Rourke may include sharpshooter Conor McManus from the start at Healy Park in the knowledge that his players simply cannot afford to find themselves chasing the game.

Belfast Telegraph

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