Tyrone see off Cavan with goal spree
Tyrone 5-18 Cavan 2-17
For the first time in six long, barren years, Tyrone will be a part of Ulster football's showpiece day.
Never again, will they take for granted the Anglo-Celt trophy and if they take it out of Clones on Sunday week, the entire county will be sending in a sick note on Monday morning.
They reached it by performing a goal blitz on Cavan that gave an eerie feel to the final half-hour here in St Tiernach's Park.
A satisfied, but hardly ecstatic Mickey Harte reflected on the possibly of facing Donegal, a team that have had their number in four of the last six years, on July 17.
"We are playing in the Ulster final, this is the one that matters, there is a cup at the end of this," said Harte.
"The best team will lift a cup that day. The team that plays the best and applies themselves better will lift the cup and I hope that's Tyrone."
Tyrone took any possible sting out of the game on 44 minutes. With Cavan streaming forward to tax Tyrone's stacked defence, the ball squirted from Jack Brady's grasp. Sean Cavanagh fed Connor McAliskey who ran 80 yards upfield. Peter Harte offered support, but McAliskey trusted his own finishing to pot into the corner for the third goal.
After that, the marking jobs evaporated. No wonder substitute Rory Brennan was left unhindered to get onto the end of another move on 50 minutes to palm the fourth goal less than 20 seconds after coming on. A little while later, sub Jonathan Munroe came on, caught a Niall Morgan restart, played a one-two and arrowed over, unburdened by pressure.
The really odd thing was that Cavan were able to score 1-7 in the last ten minutes of normal time (and six additional minutes). That kind of game. Mad.
Tyrone needed to staunch the flow of the Cavan goals. So they included Ronan McNabb in his first appearance since last year's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kerry and a ruptured cruciate, to track Cavan's Martin Reilly.
The veteran Justin McMahon also came in. Harte kept faith in Ronan McNamee to mark David Givney, but it was reassuring to have the size, craft and experience of the Omagh man in there acting as a sweeper nonetheless.
With the weather much more favourable than the first game, both sides opened with some flowing football, rattling off a rat-tat-tat-tat of point exchanges through the first quarter.
After that, the deluge. Tyrone patiently worked the ball through McNabb, Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly to the impressive Cathal McShane who put Peter Harte through on goal at the O'Duffy Terrace. The manager's nephew applied a top-corner finish past Raymond Galligan. Hardly a glove was laid on them through the move.
Within a minute, the ball was in the net again. Tyrone won the kickout, McAliskey offered himself as a point of reference for the attack and passed smartly to the raiding Tiernan McCann. The Killyclogher man was caught in several minds as to what to do and in the end, just hopped off Galligan. The spilled ball was tapped home by Harte.
So that's what Harte did.
Terry Hyland caused another eyebrow to be raised when from the off he sent Gearoid McKiernan to make up a three-man full forward line along with Givney and Eugene Keating - who was in for Cavan's top-scorer Seanie Johnston.
Once Brennan's goal went in on 56 minutes it was a matter of just staying in front, picking up no cards and getting out of Dodge for the Red Hands. Colm Cavanagh appeared to pick up a bad knock when contesting a high ball and was removed.
Tyrone compiled a series of points, Mattie Donnelly showing very nimble feet for one in particular, while the loudest cheer for a score came when McMahon wrapped his left boot around a shot.
Credit to Cavan, some players would not let up, most notably the goal-scoring Cian Mackey. But still Tyrone had another in injury time, two subs combining when Darren McCurry aimed a curling pass to Mark Bradley who rolled it to the net.
TYRONE: N Morgan 0-1f,: A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon, R McNabb; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly 0-3; C McShane 0-2, N Sludden 0-1, P Harte 2-4, 1f; C McAliskey 1-2, 1f, S Cavanagh 0-2, R O'Neill. Subs: R Brennan 1-0 for McNabb (48), D McCurry for C Cavanagh, J Monroe 0-1, for McShane (55), M Bradley 1-1 for O'Neill (58), P Hampsey for McNamee (61), B Tierney for Sludden (67).
CAVAN: R Galligan 0-1, '45'; K Brady, R Dunne, J McEnroe; F Flanagan 0-1, C Moynagh 0-2, N Murray; T Corr, K Clarke 0-1; D McVeety, G McKiernan 0-7, 4f, M Reilly 0-1; D Givney 0-1, C Mackey 1-3, E Keating. Subs: J Brady 1-0 for Givney (26), J McLoughlin for McEnroe (34), C Brady for K Brady (51), P Faulkner for Murray (57), M Argue for Reilly (61), G Smith for McVeety (65)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)