Sean Cavanagh could make all the difference for Tyrone at full-forward reckons Mark Donnelly
A TYRONE full-forward line of Sean Cavanagh flanked by Mark Bradley and Darren McCurry is a mouthwatering prospect, reckons Mark Donnelly.
The former Tyrone star feels that, at this stage of his career, the number 14 jersey may be just the ticket for the Moy man. Bradley, meanwhile, was the stand out player in the Tyrone senior championship as Killyclogher claimed the O'Neill Cup, and is rated very highly by Donnelly, as is Edendork sharpshooter McCurry.
"Mark Bradley's made a big impression this year and I definitely think he's going to make a big impact in the Ulster Championship anyway this year with Tyrone," said the former Tyrone forward.
"He's fantastic - he's a joy to watch. Even in the Ulster club - when the game was dead - he came alight. I would like to see him pinning down a starting place. He's been in and out of the team, but I think this year could be the year that he pushes on from the season that he has had."
Tyrone's championship run ended this year with the narrowest of defeats to Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final. There appeared to be little doubt that, with a touch more scoring power as well as variety in their attack, the Red Hands could easily have advanced to the last-four.
Many observers feel Cavanagh could do an effective and decisive job if handed the full-forward brief, and Donnelly is one of them: "Sean as an option at full-forward is definitely something worth looking at," said the Carrickmore man.
"He's obviously played there in the past and I think he's an Allstar full-forward. I suppose now he's in the later stages of his career - he mightn't be as fit as he once was, so that could be an option."
Referring specifically to that Mayo defeat in which Cavanagh was, of course, black carded-in the second-half, Donnelly says it was "crying out for" Cavanagh or a similar type of player to go to the edge of the square.
"[In that game], there was a big gap between the full-forward line and our half-forward line and they had all retreated," he added.
"And then, when the ball came in, Mayo were able to mop it up whereas, if you had a different dynamic where you had a bigger man in there, you have the option of putting it in long to him - then you have the other men coming off."
As for McCurry, Donnelly sees this as the year that he to, too, like Bradley, may make a corner-forward berth his own: "Darren McCurry didn't nail down a starting spot last year - I don't know whether it was through injury or what," he said.
"But I know he's been training hard and I think he's a class act. I think, with him and Mark up front this year, there are two serious scoring threats. And if they had the likes of Sean in between those two boys, there will not be many teams who have a better-full forward line. And then you have the likes of [Connor] McAliskey and Ronie O'Neill - they have a lot of options up there."
Among those options may also be some of the new players drafted in by Mickey Harte in preparation for the Ó Fiaich Cup, as well as players who have been on the fringes to date.
One or two of those can add significantly to the manager's hand for the coming season, feels Donnelly, not least of whom may be his fellow club man Jonathan Monroe: "Johnny's a solid player, he's very committed, physical and very game," he insisted.
"I definitely think there is a position for him on the team."
Another to catch Donnelly's eye is Ardboe defender Michael Cassidy - yet another graduate of Tyrone's 2015 All-Ireland U21-winning side: "I followed him with the Tyrone U21s and I saw him playing against us a few times - he's a very tidy player," he said.
"He's good on the ball and comfortable taking a score as well and that's the type of player that Mickey likes. So it looks promising - there are definitely players who can make an impact and, obviously, they will want to build on last year."