Tyrone in recovery mode for Donegal clash says Cathal McShane

Extra-time epic against Cavan has Red Hands prioritising rest ahead of semi-final clash

Tyrone forward Cathal McShane says he wasn’t not surprised by the performance
Ulster semi-final opponents Donegal delivered in their win over Derry
Tyrone forward Cathal McShane says he wasn’t not surprised by the performance Ulster semi-final opponents Donegal delivered in their win over Derry

BRIAN Dooher ushered his players straight to the dressing room as soon as the final whistle sounded on Sunday’s epic tie at Kingspan Breffni, every moment precious in the recovery process following an energy-sapping Championship encounter with Cavan.

Some dragged their wearied bodies from the battle scene, barely able to walk and clearly suffering from the effects of the fury that had just been unleashed.

Tyrone’s slender extra-time victory over Cavan saw them survive to fight another day, but Sunday’s Ulster semi-final will come quickly, perhaps too quickly for some, and Donegal will look to exploit every sign of weakness and fatigue in a bruised opponent.

“It has taken its toll on the bodies. The recovery started straight after the match,” said Cathal McShane.

“Donegal played on Saturday evening, but obviously we have less time, less hours to get ready, and every moment counts, so we’re putting our shoulder to the wheel now to make sure we recover well and make sure we’re in the best possible shape for next weekend.”

With an extra day to deal with the tight one-week turnaround, Jim McGuinness, an interested spectator at the Cavan-Tyrone clash, knows he holds a slender but crucial advantage which he will deploy in the same meticulous fashion that he used to target Derry’s frailties.

No doubt he will see many potential vulnerabilities in his next opponent, and the familiar surrounds of Celtic Park will offer added comforts to his players, who performed so assuredly at the venue last Saturday.

Tyrone’s Darragh Canavan celebrates during the Ulster Quarter final.  Picture Mark Marlow
Tyrone’s Darragh Canavan celebrates during the Ulster SFC quarter-final win over Cavan Picture: Mark Marlow (" ")

McShane, whose north Tyrone home is not far from the boundaries with both Derry and Donegal, was highly impressed with the manner in which the treble-chasing Oak Leafers were dismantled.

“They were fantastic. They came and they caused a massive upset, because certain people going in didn’t give Donegal a chance.

“But fair play to them, they stepped up and they were brilliant on the day. They caused Derry lots of problems.

“Personally I knew they were capable of that as well. We played them in the McKenna Cup this year and there were lots of positives for them that night as well. “But we’re really looking forward to next week.”

McShane came in as a second half substitute at Breffni, and proved highly effective in an unfamiliar role, working tirelessly to disrupt a fired-up Cavan side and force vital turnovers.

He’s hoping this could be a turning point for a team that has struggled for form since winning the All-Ireland in 2021, having progressed beyond the provincial quarter-finals for the first time since that Croke Park triumph.

“Every day you go out, you try and do your best, and some days it falls for you, and some days it doesn’t,” he said.

“We’ll just worry now about ourselves, getting the recovery done and we look forward to next weekend. “It’s a huge task at hand, we know it’s going to be a tough game, but we look forward to it.”

Tyrone arrived in Cavan town fully briefed on the threats posed by a Breffni outfit that had already taken out Monaghan in the preliminary round, their supporters excited at the prospect of watching their heroes claim another Division One scalp.

But when the visitors eased into an eight-point lead, romantic notions began to fade – until suddenly the game was turned on its head by two quickfire goals.

And the Red Hands just about survived in the added stretch of extra-time to deny Raymond Galligan’s warriors.

“We went into a big lead and they showed great character to get back in to it,” said McShane.

“Obviously for us, we wouldn’t be happy with that, letting them back in to it, but again you have to give them credit.

“But I think we showed good leadership then to get through it and dig out t