GAA Football

We have to trust the boys in attack: Cavanagh

Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh during their win over Donegal on Sunday. Picture by Seamus Loughran

NOT for the first time in this team’s four-year cycle, Colm Cavanagh heard the alarm bells ringing when Tyrone passed up goalscoring opportunities against Donegal.

Whereas Ryan McHugh snaffled a chance out of nothing for Michael Murphy to raise a green flag at the end of the first half, Tyrone passed up a handful of chances before final quarter majors from Harry Loughran and Declan McClure secured a first championship win in Ballybofey since 1973.

The issue of missing chances has been held over this team ever since the All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kerry in 2015, but in recent weeks they’ve shown signs of arresting the trend.

They’ve scored 15 goals this summer, and their decision making in front of goal has been markedly improved since they passed up a number of chances against Cavan.

Cavanagh admits he feared it wouldn’t be their day when Donegal were holding them at arm’s length but feels they’re getting there.

“Our decision-making, our shot selection at times, we missed a few, and that sets alarm bells off in your head, thinking ‘Is this going to happen for us?’

“But you have to trust that the boys up there [in attack] are good players, they know to keep going. They never put the heads down, that was the key thing, when they missed they didn’t put the head down and not go for it again.

“They let the shackles off and made the right choices and that probably resulted in Harry’s goal and Decky’s goal.”

The Moy man was only half fit when Tyrone met Monaghan in Healy Park back in May, having played no football off the back of his club’s All-Ireland intermediate success in February.

Mark Bradley went off injured early on, while Lee Brennan wasn’t himself either and ended up missing the next eight weeks.

Malachy O’Rourke’s side did dominate the middle portion of the game and were five points up in stoppage time, but equally the sides had been level not long before that.

“Ah, I don’t think I’ve been in good shape for a couple of years now to be totally honest with you,” Cavanagh laughed when reminded of that injury-hit spell.

“Naw, look, that game and even subsequent games probably came too quick for me this year and game by game I’ve been building my fitness back and getting there. It’s a work in progress and will be for weeks, I hope, before I get back to full fitness.

“Monaghan stuck to their game-plan and probably deserved their win.

“I, to be honest, haven’t looked at it too much afterwards because it was all about getting ourselves back into a position to move forward.

“We have a few days to assess that game, along with all the other games that Monaghan have played to date, along with what we did [against Donegal].

“Part of the process is that we have to evaluate everything, look at where we made mistakes [against Donegal] and in the first Monaghan game, then see where we can improve. Hopefully that will take us to another level.”

“Probably both teams are looking at it as a big opportunity to progress to the final.”

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