Tyrone need to show pragmatism to halt Dublin: Cavanagh
When Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh sits down to rake over what's gone before in 2018 and his second All-Ireland final, the gaze in his eyes tells you it's not a bluff when he says Dublin are masters of their own destiny next year, chasing a first-ever five consecutive All-Ireland titles.
The Red Hands might have ran them to a three-point gap in the Super8s encounter in Omagh over the summer, but that gap was pushed out to six by the time they reconvened for an All-Ireland final.
"Dublin are still out in front. Everyone's in the chasing pack behind and I'd be totally honest about that," stated Cavanagh while on the touring party in Philadelphia for the PwC All-Stars tour.
"If any team has any ambitions of catching Dublin at the minute, we're going to have to do something different, we're going to have to adapt somehow to try and stop them because there's not too many teams that look like beating them at the minute.
"But a new season brings new hopes and styles, and everything will change."
As well as new styles and tactics, he doesn't rule out a few new faces, or even some old ones coming back given that former county players Kyle Coney and Shay McGuigan have attended trials over the last few weeks.
"You look at where we went wrong last year, a bit like any team will do.
"Where did you go wrong last year, especially in that final against Dublin because obviously they're the benchmark at the minute and they'll try and change it up again," said Cavanagh.
"I'm sure Mickey will be looking to bring in a few lads I'd imagine this year.
"There's a lot of good lads coming through the Tyrone club scene and hopefully that will shake things up a bit."
Deciphering where it all went wrong against Dublin is difficult, but Cavanagh attempted it in saying: "If you break the game down and where we were, we started really well and Dean Rock missed a few frees which he wouldn't normally have missed.
"Everyone was thinking this is our day and what not.
"I think we probably lacked a bit of experience, and our decision-making and game management just wasn't good at 5-1 or whatever we were at. Dublin, they haven't done what they've done for no reason."
This is Cavanagh's second tour and second All-Star having put two back to back. In 2017 it was for midfield, while this year he was placed at full-back as an acknowledgement for the changing structures and formations of Gaelic football.
However, there were some painful years at the start of his career when he allowed some online criticism to get under his skin as he admitted.
"My early years were a bit bothersome and I had a lot of injuries. There was still plenty of household names running around that had the positions at the time. It took me a few years to probably nail it.
"I probably took plenty of flak in the early stages with Tyrone, took a lot of abuse on… it wouldn't have been social media, it would have been message boards at the time and I would have been well aware of that at the time."
He continued: "In one way I have to appreciate that Mickey did stick with me the whole time because he obviously seen something there and it took a bit of time to tease out because even in 2010/11 I was more of an attacking midfielder and then I gradually fell back.
"I've a lot to be thankful for that because I've seen the other side, I've seen the early stages of not doing so well and getting a bit of criticism, 'Oh he's only on now because Sean's there'. I've seen that side of it."
Cavanagh is another player who has expressed his dismay with the volume of the playing rules changes that will be in effect for the start of the pre-season competitions.
"I'll put it out there that I don't think all these rules need to be completely implemented. I think it'd be very harsh on referees, it'd be very harsh on the game to implement everything in one go," he said.
"Some of the rules may come in and they may be very good.
"There's just a lot of them in one go; bringing in the handpass one especially.
"Referees at the minute have a tough job and to add something like that in of that complexity I think could be tricky.
"It could be very difficult to monitor and control unless you're bringing in another referee.
"It's going to be very hard to look after."
He added: "I can see what they're trying to do but I'm just not sure that a couple of the rules will work well, but who knows?
"They'll trial them in the early competitions and the league.
"Time will tell how they go but I can just foresee a lot of problems with how it's monitored and how it's controlled.
"Referees have a tough job at the minute and you're making it that bit harder for them I think."