Monday 16 December 2019

Tyrone fuelled by 'anger' on drive to Longford

Seán Cavanagh says Tyrone will be primed
Seán Cavanagh says Tyrone will be primed

Seán Cavanagh can think of one word to sum up Tyrone's mood ahead of their latest 'back-door' odyssey starting in Longford tomorrow - anger.

Cavanagh has been part of previous All-Ireland triumphs via the scenic route - in 2005 and most notably in '08, when they faltered early in Ulster.

Ten years later he was newly retired as Tyrone fell to Monaghan, then survived an early qualifier scare in Navan to reach another final.

Losing this year's Ulster semi-final to Donegal was not, of itself, a seismic shock. The impoverished display, disguised by a four-point margin, was the shocking part.

Asked to describe Tyrone training after an early Ulster exit, Cavanagh replies: "We are what we are in Tyrone. There's a nastiness there. And we're the same to ourselves, and we're the same in club football as we sometimes come across at county level.

"It's not always at the level which it's portrayed," he clarifies, "but certainly there would have been 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 to try and put that right, because it doesn't sit all that well the way we played in Breffni.

"It was probably the most disappointing performance that I can remember, outside of Derry in '06 when we were scoreless in the first half.

"That was probably the last time that we went into a game and we were as shocked as we were that day in Breffni Park. So, yeah, I suspect a big backlash on Saturday."

The 2008 Footballer of the Year is confident Tyrone won't walk blindly into a Pearse Park ambush, partly because Mickey Harte is so good at creating a siege mentality.

"It's a dangerous fixture but the one thing I'll say about Tyrone is that generally they can recognise that danger fairly well, and I think they'll know going down there on Saturday," Cavanagh surmises.

"And the fact that they've come off a quite disappointing result - generally they're good at giving a reaction. Mickey is very good at creating a bit of a siege culture.

"I'd say there'll be an awful lot of anger this week in training and they'll be ready to go come Saturday. I don't see it as a massive risk.

"If you're not right, obviously, you could get nipped but what will be more interesting is round three or round four, whenever you start throwing in a couple of the other teams that are there."

Reflecting on Tyrone's previous foray to Longford - a five-point qualifier win in 2011 - Cavanagh recalls: "It's a tough place to go ... there was maybe a kick of a ball in it with five or 10 minutes to go.

"I think they beat Derry down there, beat Mayo down there, did they nip Monaghan up in Clones a couple of years ago? So are they capable? Yes, they are ... but do I foresee Tyrone losing?

"No, I don't. I think Tyrone have way too much quality and eventually will probably squeeze through."

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