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Colm Cavanagh relishing chance to defend Tyrone's unbeaten run

By John Campbell

Colm Cavanagh has grown accustomed to seeing his brother Sean gain lavish plaudits during his lengthy sojourn to date in Tyrone's colours.

But lately Colm himself has been stamping his imprint on the team's style of play and he is now poised for one of his biggest challenges when the Red Hands face Kerry on Sunday, knowing that victory means a decisive step towards a semi-final place.

Anthony Maher and David Moran, two of the more experienced players in the current Kingdom line-up, currently form the midfield partnership, although manager Eamon Fitzmaurice may amend his formation given the amount of ball Mayo won in this sector at the weekend.

Nonetheless, the younger Cavanagh is very much steeled for what he feels will be another massive test for a reconstructed Red Hands side that is still undefeated this year and is gaining in cohesion, confidence and maturity.

"We knew that we had to make a good start to the league, otherwise we would find ourselves looking over our shoulder.

"We have two wins and a draw under our belts but our five points to date have been really hard-earned and we are aware that Kerry will be desperate to get a couple of points in Killarney on Sunday," points out Colm.

And he believes that a major plus-factor in Tyrone's progress to date has been manager Mickey Harte's deployment of substitutes.

"In the win over Mayo we were able to bring on boys like Dermot Carlin, Mark Donnelly, Connor McAliskey, Paddy McNeice and my brother Sean and they were all able to get us over the line after Mayo had come back at us," explains Colm.

"Then against Kildare at the weekend Ronan McNamee, Niall McKenna and Kyle Coney were able to come in and late on Mark Donnelly showed what an important player he is by coming off the bench and getting the goal that won the match for us.

"When you are benefiting from your bench to this extent, it gives you great confidence."

The top four teams in Division One will meet in the semi-finals with the team with most points taking on the fourth-placed outfit while the teams that finish in second and third positions meet in the other semi-final.

"Obviously we would be very keen to make it into the semi-finals not only because we would still be in with a chance of the league title, but because it would give us at least one more competitive game before the Ulster championship," declares Colm.

"As the manager points out, you cannot beat playing competitive matches. That's better than all the training put together in terms of the development of our team."

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