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Cavanagh predicts a backlash from angry Tyrone

Good times: Sean Cavanagh with Mickey Harte
Good times: Sean Cavanagh with Mickey Harte

By Donnchadh Boyle

Sean Cavanagh expects a reaction from an "angry" Tyrone camp when they face Longford in Pearse Park tomorrow.

Last year's All-Ireland finalists were comprehensively outplayed by Donegal in their Ulster semi-final which condemned them to the backdoor route, in what Cavanagh described as one of the worst performances from a Red Hands team that he can remember.

And he expects Mickey Harte's men to impose themselves on the game from the first whistle.

"We are what we are in Tyrone," said the three-time All-Ireland winner.

"There is a nastiness there, and we're the same to ourselves, we're the same in club football as what we sometimes come across in county level.

"It's not always at the level it's portrayed but certainly there'll be an awful lot of anger in the last couple of weeks.

"There'll be frustration there, they'll be mad looking to get out onto the field on Saturday to put that right.

"It doesn't sit all that well, the way we played in Breffni. It was the most disappointing performance I can remember, probably outside of Derry in '06 when we were scoreless in the first half.

"I suspect a big backlash on Saturday and I wouldn't be surprised if it comes."

Longford exited the Leinster Championship at the hands of Kildare after a replay. Their backdoor campaign is up and running, and they have a record of taking scalps in the qualifiers, with the likes of Mayo, Derry, Down and Monaghan all falling at the hands of the midlanders over the last decade.

However, Tyrone are specialists in the qualifiers too, and have made the All-Ireland quarter-final stage through the backdoor on seven occasions.

"I don't see it (a Longford win). It's a tough place to go, we went there maybe six, seven, eight years ago and there was maybe a kick of a ball in it with five or 10 minutes to go," said Cavanagh.

"I think they beat Derry down there, beat Mayo down there, and nipped Monaghan up in Clones a couple of years ago.

"So are they capable? Yes, they are. I just think Tyrone are too experienced and have too much. I suspect Longford will try to stay in the game as long as possible and it wouldn't surprise me if the game was close with five or 10 minutes to go.

"But do I foresee Tyrone losing? No, I don't.

"I think Tyrone have way too much quality and eventually will probably squeeze through.

"Tyrone will not be able to play that kicking game the way they will want to, the way that they have been playing in the league.

"So I suspect they will go back to playing an awful lot through the hands and playing that attacking-through-waves football that they've been good at in the last number of years."

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