Colm Cavanagh calling for Tyrone consistency
COLM Cavanagh says Tyrone must develop a hard edge and find some consistency as they approach a crucial series of games.
Staring down the relegation barrel, the Red Hands have an extra week to prepare for a must-win tie against Donegal due to the postponement of all games this weekend, followed by equally important clashes with Mayo and Dublin.
The Healy Park Ulster derby, now set to be played next weekend, brings together teams desperate for points, each with just one win from four attempts. Cavanagh knows that there is now no hiding place for the Red Hands as they attempt to maintain top-flight status.
“We have to play Donegal, Mayo and Kerry, sides like ourselves who are struggling at the wrong end of the table,” he said.
“You could say that all three of those games are like fourpointers. But it’s all about finding more consistency. Our form at times against Monaghan was fine but we have to sustain that over a longer period of time to get the right results.”
A one-point loss to the Farney county left Tyrone frustrated following their visit to Castleblayney, when they paid the price for a slow start, and struggled to maintain the high tempo that saw them trouble the home side at various stages.
“Performance-wise it was probably a mixed bag,” said Cavanagh.
“We started very slowly and Monaghan got a bit of a run on us. We fought back into the game well and obviously went ahead at half-time. “We take some positives from that but the down side was that we made a lot of errors and mistakes. If you commit that many at this level you are going to be punished.
“The biggest disappointment was naturally the result, losing after such a close game. We have a lot of things to work on and improvements to make for Donegal.”
Donegal have been developing a more attack-minded strategy under new manager Declan Bonner, and Cavanagh has been impressed by their positive approach this season.
“They got the better of us last week in the McKenna Cup final and I suppose they are playing a more expansive style of football,” he said.
“They were impressive at times against us and have clearly done a lot of work on adapting their tactics, which they seem to be improving upon.
“The fact they won the McKenna Cup from us and with the battle for points is just as fierce for both sides, it should spice it up. Both teams will be well motivated for it.”
With the stakes so high for both sides, tension will fill the Omagh air, and after losing an Ulster derby a week ago by the narrowest of margins, it could all come down to one late opportunity once again.
“I think the last time we went down we were also involved in a couple of narrow one-point losses too,” said Cavanagh.
“It’s all fine margins, a point or two here or there in certain games and you could find yourself further up the table rather than the spot we now find ourselves in.
“We are at the bottom end right now and have a lot of work to do in the last three games to scrap our way out of it.”
Cavanagh made his first Tyrone appearance of the season against Monaghan, and admits to being somewhat rusty after stepping up from the club scene.
The Allstar midfielder is attempting to get back to the pace of the inter-county game after winning an All-Ireland IFC title with Moy.
“Things have been different for me this year in terms of preparation,” he said. “I have been training away with the club because our season stretched into the new year. It will probably take me a bit of time to get up to the pace of it again, I noticed it last Saturday night there. My play wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked it to have been.
“But I’m feeling good and feeling fresh and I am making that transition back into the Tyrone squad. That will take a period of time for myself as the squad have been training together since pre-Christmas and we are now nearly in March. “Despite some of the results there is still a positive vibe about the place and I’m glad to get back.”