GAA Football

All-Ireland Qualifying round three - Cavan v Tyrone stats and analysis ahead of Brewster battle between Ulster rivals

Connor McAliskey has been in red hot form for the Red Hands so far, and will hope to continue that form against Cavan in Enniskillen tonight. Picture by Philip Walsh

MAN OF THE MOMENT

Connor McAliskey (Tyrone)

A CRUEL cruciate ligament injury, picked up against Cavan at the start of the Dr McKenna Cup, saw McAliskey miss Tyrone’s entire League and Championship campaign last year – but he has bounced back in impressive fashion this year.

Some wondered whether the Clonoe man might be able to force his way back into Mickey Harte’s starting 15 but he has emerged as Tyrone’s key attacker, especially after the injuries suffered by Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan.

Thus far he has delivered. Six points in defeat to Monaghan was followed by 1-8 against Meath and 0-5 in last weekend’s victory over Carlow.

KEY BATTLE

Gearoid McKiernan (Cavan) v Declan McClure (Tyrone)

WHEN surveying who could possibly cause Tyrone enough damage to matter this evening, McKiernan is the only name that really jumps out as a potential game-changer. So many of Cavan’s players were lost in the defensive malaise against Down, but the Swanlinbar man was often the only one who showed any kind of leadership – although he got lucky when Shane Harrison dropped his attempted point into the net.

Named at half-forward but expected to drop back around the middle, how he fares against Declan McClure will have a big say on whether the Breffnimen have any chance.

TACTICAL TAKE

Cavan

AMONG the highest scorers in the League as they sealed promotion from Division Two in the Spring, Cavan seem unsure whether to stick or twist in the summer after opting to go back on the defensive come Championship.

They set up defensively against Donegal but didn’t seem to know how to effectively play that system, with Tir Chonaill players waltzing through blue bodies at will. Down used the width of the Brewster Park pitch to cause them problems last weekend and, but for losing three key men during the course of the game, would be preparing to face Tyrone today.

Padraig Faulkner is likely to pick up Tyrone dangerman Connor McAliskey while there’s a chance Killian Clarke may drop back to mark Richie Donnelly, with Gearoid McKiernan moving into midfield. Niall Murray may be asked to look after Niall Sludden.

Up front, Seanie Johnston and Conor Bradley will likely be the two inside as McVeety drops out to join the crowd around the middle.

Tyrone

HAVING had too much firepower for a defensively-sound Carlow last weekend, Mickey Harte will fancy his chances against Cavan this evening.

The Tyrone boss is likely to have studied the video of Donegal’s straightforward victory over the Breffnimen and seen how much joy Declan Bonner’s side got from the pace and power of Jamie Brennan, Michael Langan and Ciaran Thompson coming in from the flanks, while Michael Murphy and Hugh McFadden wiped them out at midfield.

Tyrone are sometimes guilty of playing too narrow and could do worse than look at how Down pulled Cavan wide to create space last weekend. The pace from deep of Niall Sludden and Peter Harte will be crucial as they bid to pick holes in the Breffni rearguard, so too the clever running of Connor McAliskey and Cathal McShane.

Tiernan McCann has been named on the bench after returning from a one-match suspension, but he could get the nod to start.

TEAM TALK

Tyrone

Mickey Harte has named an unchanged team for the first time this season, opting for the same 15 that started in the 10 point defeat of Carlow.

Tiernan McCann returns to the 26-man match-day squad at the expense of Ruairi Sludden following a one-match suspension, and it would be no surprise to see him line out this evening, possibly in the place of Michael McKernan.

N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron; M McKernan, F Burns, P Harte; C Cavanagh, D McClure; M Donnelly, N Sludden, C Meyler; C McShane, R Donnelly, C McAliskey

Cavan

Cavan captain Dara McVeety and Conor Moynagh have both been cleared to play against Tyrone this evening. Picture by Philip Walsh

The programme team sent earlier in the week shows three changes from that which lined out against Down – but that was before captain Dara McVeety and Conor Moynagh successfully appealed red cards picked in the melee that followed that victory.

As a result, McVeety will likely start head of Cian Mackey, with Moynagh getting the nod ahead of Fergal Reilly in the half-back line. Killian Clarke, who missed the win over the Mournemen with an injury, comes into midfield, with Bryan Magee dropping out.

J Farrelly; K Brady, P Faulkner, E Flanagan; C Brady, M Reilly, F Reilly; S McCormack, K Clarke; O Kiernan, G McKiernan, N Murray; C Bradley, C Mackey, S Johnston

LAST CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING

July 3, 2016, Ulster SFC semi-final replay: Tyrone 5-18 Cavan 2-17

AT the second time of asking, Tyrone eventually saw off Terry Hyland’s Breffnimen in a high-scoring replay at Clones.

Three goals from David Givney the week previous had seen Cavan snatch a draw from a game where they were second best for large spells, but they were put to the sword in ruthless fashion the next day out.

Two Peter Harte goals in the space of two minutes helped the Red Hands to a 2-8 to 0-7 half-time lead. Connor McAliskey and Rory Brennan added further goals early in the second half before Cian Mackey netted for Cavan.

Substitutes Mark Bradley and Jack Brady traded late goals, but in truth the game was long gone for Cavan as Tyrone moved into the final against Donegal.

LAST 10 IN CHAMPIONSHIP

2016 Ulster SFC semi-final replay, July 3: Tyrone 5-18 Cavan 2-17

2016 Ulster SFC semi-final, June 19 2016: Tyrone 0-16 Cavan 3-7

2005 Ulster SFC semi-final replay, June 25: Tyrone 3-19 Cavan 0-7

2005 Ulster SFC semi-final, June 19: Tyrone 0-10 Cavan 1-7

2001 Ulster SFC final, July 8: Tyrone 1-13 Cavan 1-11

1995 Ulster SFC final, July 23: Tyrone 2-13 Cavan 0-10

1986 Ulster SFC semi-final, June 22: Tyrone 2-16 Cavan 1-12

1983 Ulster SFC quarter-final, June 19: Tyrone 1-10 Cavan 0-11

1980 Ulster SFC semi-final, June 29: Tyrone 2-12 Cavan 1-9

1967 Ulster SFC semi-final, July 9: Tyrone 3-3 Cavan 1-13

Meath whistler David Coldrick will referee tonight's All-Ireland Qualifier clash between Cavan and Tyrone at Brewster Park. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

WHO’S THE REF?

David Coldrick (Meath)

WAS also the man in the middle the last time these two counties met in Championship two summers ago, with his only indiscretion – in the view of the crowd anyway – playing six minutes of added time in a game that was long over as Tyrone romped home by 10. Derry boss Damian McErlain wasn’t impressed with Coldrick as the Oak Leafs exited against Kildare earlier this month and felt that, as a fellow Leinster man, the Meath whistler shouldn’t have been officiating at a Kildare game.

WEATHER WATCH

YOU can normally rely on a drop of rain in Fermanagh, but not today. The forecast suggests it is likely to be around 26-27 degrees by the time the teams take the field at 5pm with hardly any wind.

BETTING BOX

Cavan 4/1

Draw 12/1

Tyrone 2/9

Handicap odds

Cavan +5 10/11

Draw +5 10/1

Tyrone -5 Evs

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