GAA Football

Sean Cavanagh sees a partner in Mattie Donnelly for Tyrone

Mattie Donnelly was tried at full-forward against Cavan with mixed results

WHILE there may have been a lukewarm reception to the Sean Cavanagh-Mattie Donnelly full-forward axis last weekend, Cavanagh maintains it could be the answer to Tyrone’s prayers this year.

Criticised in some quarters for running the ball too much, the prospect of Cavanagh and Donnelly playing inside could change Tyrone’s attacking dynamic in 2017.

Both men formed an unlikely pairing during Tyrone’s seven-point win over Cavan last weekend.

Donnelly managed just one point from play while Cavanagh was held scoreless.

However, fouls on Donnelly yielded four converted frees for Tyrone.

And Cavanagh feels it’s a partnership worth persevering with.

“It’s an interesting one because I suppose we haven’t played with a couple of physical players in there,” said the Moy man, who hit three frees in the Cavan win.

“It will take a wee bit of tweaking but there were signs there that we were linking up quite well and it maybe gives us more impetus to let the ball in that wee bit longer.

“This last couple of years we have probably ran the ball quite hard through the hands and we obviously have the players to do that.

“It gives us another option and you only need one of those long balls in to go right and you are probably going to create more goal chances.”

In the latter stages of his playing career, Harte played Peter Canavan closer to the opposition goal and the manager may see Cavanagh playing a similar role this season.

Donnelly has the feet to pull off the full-forward role but he was also hugely effective at midfield for Tyrone last season, which resulted in the Trillick man winning an Allstar.

Cavanagh noted: “I think we have an awful lot of players who can play in that middle sector and whilst Mattie in particular is very good running on to play - he can play in the half-back, midfield or half-forward line - it really does give us another string to our bow, the fact that he has that physicality inside.

“The more we have that, the more the guys will become comfortable about getting the ball in that little bit quicker.

“You can see how the Dublins, Mayos and Kerrys, who have dominated the top end of our game for the last three or four years, have always had that physical strength inside and at certain points of the game are able to move the ball in that bit quicker.

“So it's something we're trying at the minute. It might not always stay like that but we're well equipped with the guys that we have out the field.”

Lauding the impact of Mark Bradley, Cavanagh insists the Killyclogher man's lack of size will be no barrier to success.

“I'm old enough to remember Peter Canavan's lack of size as well. Mark is a very similar type of player. He's very cute in the runs he makes.

"It's only when you go to try and put a hand on him that you realise he's very difficult to shift, he's that small.

"He's got a low centre of gravity and can shoot off either foot and you only have to watch some of the Tyrone club championship games to know he is incredibly difficult to stop. If he continues in that form, he'll be a serious option.”

GAA Football

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