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Declan Bogue: Tyrone fired up for next step on road to glory as Cavan look to turn tables

 

Rivalry: Tyrone’s Enda McGinley takes on Cavan’s James Reilly in the Ulster semi-final of 2005
Rivalry: Tyrone’s Enda McGinley takes on Cavan’s James Reilly in the Ulster semi-final of 2005
Stephen King, Damien O’Reilly and Fintan Cahill celebrate Cavan’s Ulster title in 1997
Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly clashes with Cavan’s Padraig Faulkner
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

If anyone wanted an insight into the bloody-mindedness that drove Tyrone to the All-Ireland final last year after that opening day malfunction against Monaghan, they could find it with Enda McGinley's contribution early on in the week with Newstalk Radio.

"With all due respect to everybody within the draw, Mickey Harte will always be thinking about a chance to win the All-Ireland title," said McGinley.

"Looking at the way the draw has worked out, playing Cavan in the next round, a team that Tyrone will give due respect to but wouldn't really fear, that throws them into a Super8 group with, yes, Dublin, but then Roscommon and Cork or Laois and, well, Tyrone if they've taken care of Cavan.

"From a Tyrone point of view, that would look like a brilliant ticket to get to an All-Ireland semi-final where you would be playing either Kerry or Donegal, and again, they are not Dublin... the way the draw has worked out for Tyrone, I think Mickey Harte quietly will be thinking he is going to get another crack on the biggest stage of all this year."

In so many ways, the draw is ideal. The Red Hands have a chance now to go after a vulnerable Cavan side (Clones, 5pm) who have just lost an Ulster final and yet are determined to show they are back to stay.

A safe passage through the Super8s is negotiable. They could conceivably harvest enough points from the first two games to render a final group game against Dublin a dead rubber.

Then, they would hope for Donegal to come through. They will nurse a grudge from their semi-final surrender. It creates the exact same narrative applied to last year's first round exit to Monaghan; and let us remind you, Tyrone nipped Monaghan in the All-Ireland semi. They are dangerous when they have a cause. They have no such cause with Cavan.

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Thirty-six years ago, Cavan defeated Tyrone in the 1983 Ulster Championship.

They have met eight times since in Championship. In 2005 and 2016, Cavan brought them to a replay before being buried under an avalanche of goals in the rematch.

Last year, in a round three qualifier between the two in Brewster Park, Tyrone maintained their flawless record against Cavan.

McGinley has a certain connection with Cavan.

His uncle is Frank Higgins, whose third goal in the 1956 Ulster final win over Cavan secured the Red Hands' first provincial title.

McGinley was on the Tyrone squad that beat Cavan in the 2002 National League final but a knee injury kept him out of that game.

The first time he played them was the 2005 Ulster semi-final, a game that Tyrone drew and featured a sobbing Sean Cavanagh in the dressing rooms at half-time, protesting about the treatment he was getting on the Clones turf.

"I managed to get James Reilly an All-Star nomination that year. I had three one on ones with him in the one game and he saved every one of them!" recalled McGinley.

"One of them, I was coming in from about 35 metres out and it was the strangest moment. Cavan were coming out with the ball, I could see the pass coming and I intercepted it, looked up and there was nothing between me and the goals at the Eastern terrace. About 35 yards of clear space!

"So I took it in too close, tried to take it round him but he stayed back and saved it. And two shots in the second half he saved as well."

The draw was Tyrone 0-10 Cavan 1-7. Seven days later they did it again. Tyrone 3-19 Cavan 0-7.

"That Tyrone team had a personality that, whenever we weren't quite on the edge or fired up for an opposition, we were a very average side and could nearly get caught at times," explained McGinley.

"Whenever we clicked into gear, we could absolutely destroy teams. The drawn game against Cavan was one of those days when we were a bit complacent. We would have been confident we were going to win the game. If it didn't work out that way, we did enough to survive and then the second day we opened up the tank and played some excellent football.

"It would have been our own weakness as a team that we didn't put those games away first time. The Cavan game was a typical example."

Stephen King made his debut with Cavan in the late '70s. He was still there in 1998 but wins against Tyrone were like hens' teeth when he was coming up against Plunkett Donaghy, with Art McRory on the Tyrone sideline.

"When we were playing the Railway Cup, it was always Big Art along with Brian McEniff. You could just pick out with Big Art, how astute he was," smiled King. "He had man-marking jobs, putting a guy in front of a good forward. It wasn't a sweeper system as such, but just watching where the serious threats were.

"Art was a very tactical man. I always loved the way he talked about football."

Is there something different about this Cavan? We will soon see.

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