The Championship

Anthony Forde praises Cavan's Conor Moynagh ahead of Tyrone clash

Cavan's Conor Moynagh has impressed so far this year  

FORMER Cavan ace Anthony Forde believes the emergence of ex-U21 star Conor Moynagh is one of the key reasons why the Breffni men have won promotion to the top flight-this year and are 70 minutes away from an Ulster final.

Forde, who played most of his football at centre-back, heaped praise on Moynagh and how he plays the position in Terry Hyland’s side. The Drumgoon clubman has been in great form for the Cavan seniors this season and is the instigator of many of the team’s counter-attacks.

“While there’s been a lot of talk about Seanie [Johnston] and David Givney coming back, Conor Moynagh has really fitted in well to things,” said Forde.

“He’s free from injury and he’s really developing into a fine centre-back. A lot of Cavan’s attacks are starting from him and he’s helped us going forward. He was with the U21s for a few years and he’s had a few Sigerson campaigns… But the odd injury and different things have knocked him back. But he’s really came into his own this year and he’s playing a lot of good stuff. People have talked about the offensiveness of the team, but they’ve been solid enough at the back too.”

Moynagh hasn’t been afraid to leave his sentry position, often drifting into wide areas to receive possession - but Forde says the Cavan defence has remained solid.

“There’s a good communication system: if Conor goes forward, somebody will cover for him. He’s not afraid to go forward and you look at the spread of scores we’ve had over the last number of games and we’re not over-reliant on one or two players, which is good," he added.

“Conor has been instrumental in Cavan’s fortunes this year. The transition from defence to attack has been very, very good and you can see that this year.”

Givney’s return at full-forward has been another telling factor for Cavan this season: “The big thing now is the ball is sticking up front and we’re getting something off it,” Forde said.

“If it’s only a shot on goal and it goes wide, at least we can get back into shape very quickly, whereas maybe in the past the ball has gone in and come back straight out again.

“I think David has profited from his spell of football in Ballymun in Dublin and he’s come back a stronger player, a more focused player. You can see that in his game. You could see the attention Armagh gave him the last day and he can open things up for Seanie [Johnston] as well and allows him to kick on.”

The whirlwind of media criticism heaped upon Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney after the defeat to Cavan at the end of last month meant  Hyland’s players didn’t receive the plaudits they deserved.

“Cavan probably got very little credit for that win over Armagh, which is quite disappointing and it was probably because the criticism - very unjust in my opinion - of Kieran McGeeney. It set the tone for the week.

“But it suits Cavan, it suits them well… I was reading an article after the game and it referred to all the mistakes Armagh made. That’s fine. But there was an expectation on Cavan to win - and they don’t always perform when there’s expectation on them, but they did. They went out and they were very professional about how they approached the game.”

Forde stepped down from his Cavan assistant-manager’s role at the end of last season. Now managing Cavan Gaels, Forde became involved with the U21 set-up in 2010 before moving up to the seniors in 2012 for a four-year period. While he stops short of predicting a Cavan win on Sunday, he feels his native county are capable of upsetting the odds against Tyrone in Clones.

Cavan weren’t far away when the sides clashed in this season’s Division Two League final, with the Red Hands winning by five points at Croke Park: “I’m not going to say they’re going to beat Tyrone, but they’ll not be far away and it’s going to take a good Tyrone performance to beat Cavan," he said.

“The big thing is not taking the ball into the tackle against Tyrone. That’s the big thing. Cavan have to push on now and they have a lot to learn from that Division Two final defeat to Tyrone and I think they have done.”

Forde added: “All the good people involved in the Cavan set-up - Padraig Dolan, Kevin Downes, Eoin Maguire - they’re very much students of the game and they will have done an awful lot of research, so I think they will have learned from that defeat. It’ll be a different game at Clones.

“This would be the best Cavan side since ’97, without a doubt. They’re good footballers. A lot of them are at the peak of their powers, they’re coming nicely and there’s a bit of depth to them. Jack Brady came on against Armagh after Eugene Keating got black-carded and scored two points, you have Jason McLoughlin hoping to be back for the next game…

It’s a strong squad - and it’s going to take a squad and the impact of subs in big games is huge. Hopefully, they can deliver on the potential they have.”

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