Tyrone 1-18 Cavan 0-13
Tyrone summoned all their experience, power and finesse to see off the challenge of a beleaguered Cavan side at O’Neill’s Healy Park, Omagh to book an Ulster Semi-Final place against the winners of Sunday’s Donegal v Derry clash.
An indifferent first-half performance by the home side was followed by a much more authoritative second-half effort that signalled the threat they may well pose in the race to the Anglo-Celt Cup.
The plus factors are certainly considerable — 10 points from Darren McCurry in a man-of-the-match performance, three from Cathal McShane after an 18-month absence, a significant impact from their substitutes and the clear message that competition for places from here on in will be razor-keen.
The Red Hands effectively put to bed the shock, misery and indeed uncertainty that followed their recent woeful performance against Kerry and indeed signalled that their hunger and passion could yet take them into an even better place.
Joint manager Feargal Logan certainly accepts that his team may have regained their momentum going forward but is taking nothing for granted.
“We knew we had been laid bare against Kerry and that we had to get back to basics again. I think we succeeded in doing this but obviously we still have things to work on,” said Logan.
“I am very happy that all round everyone committed and did very well. We know that we will be up against a massive challenge whether we meet Derry or Donegal at the Semi-Final stage and we have to be ready for that.
“We know that Donegal and Derry are serious operators and they will certainly show this. We are aware that we have to step up further if we want to reach the Ulster Final but that’s a challenge which we relish to tell you the truth.
“A particularly pleasing aspect of this win over Cavan was the fact that our substitutes did very well. They came in and got involved and this certainly means that competition for places for the Semi-Final will be very intense.”
Cavan manager Mickey Graham pinpointed what he felt was a crucial phase of the game that ultimately proved costly for his side.
“It was immediately that we missed three chances of scoring points while Tyrone opened up a four-point gap on the scoreboard. We never really recovered from that if the truth be told,” said Graham.
It was nip and tuck for the most part in the first half with Cavan pushing up on Tyrone’s kick-outs and attacking down the flanks. Gearoid McKiernan wielded a strong influence for the visitors at midfield and his two early points bolstered the visitors’ confidence.
Thomas Galligan and Oisin Pierson were also on target for Cavan yet slowly but surely Tyrone’s ace marksman McCurry (below) then began to stamp his imprint on the contest.
Two points in the opening six minutes were followed by a further brace as the Edendork clubman began to prove a hot handful for the Cavan defence.
And a further three points from his educated left boot helped him bring his first-half total to the round half-dozen and, even more crucially, saw Tyrone hold their four-point advantage at the interval (0-11 to 0-7).
The Red Hands went on to hit five unanswered points between the 25th and 35th minutes, thus underlining Cavan’s defensive deficiencies.
And those deficiencies became even more apparent in the second half as Tyrone, now in full flight, took command.
With Cavan pegged back inside their own territory, Tyrone attacked virtually at will and struck a telling blow in the 40th minute when impressive substitute Brian Kennedy was on the end of a sweeping move to flash the ball to the net and put his side in an even more comfortable position at 1-14 to 0-8.
Even the loss of full-back Ronan McNamee to a red card failed to disrupt Tyrone’s mechanism as McCurry and substitute McShane in particular combined their considerable finishing talents to bring their side comfortably over the line.
Cavan to their credit pushed themselves to the end but were forced to bow the knee to their opponents’ supremacy.
Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, M O’Neill, P Harte 0-1; M Donnelly, C Kilpatrick; K McGeary, R Donnelly 0-1, C Meyler; D McCurry 0-10 (5f), P Donaghy 0-1, N Sludden 0-2. Subs: B Kennedy 1-0 for R Donnelly (27), T McCann for K McGeary (half-time), C McShane 0-3 for Donaghy (47), F Burns for Sludden (60), M Bradley for Brennan (69), B McDonnell for McKernan (72).
Cavan: R Galligan 0-1 (f); K Clarke; P Faulkner, C Reilly; B O’Connell, K Brady, J McLoughlin; T Galligan 0-1, C Moynagh: G Smith 0-2, G McKiernan 0-6 (2), O Kiernan 0-1; O Brady, M Reilly. Subs: L Fortune for C Reilly (29), C Madden for Moynagh (half-time), C Smith 0-2 for O Brady (half-time), C Brady for Reilly (47),
Referee: David Gough (Meath)