GAA Football

Tyrone make hay in the Clones sunshine to book their place in the Super 8s

Tyrone's Peter Harte and Cavan's Jason McLoughlin and Ciaran Brady battle it out at Clones on Saturday. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifying round four: Cavan 0-7 Tyrone 1-20

From Andy Watters at Clones

NO-ONE, not even the Cavan players, expected an upset on Saturday and what little atmosphere there was before throw-in had evaporated long before the finish as Tyrone made hay in the Clones sunshine, cantering into the Super 8s without breaking sweat against hopelessly outclassed opponents.

A fortnight after Donegal had dismantled Cavan in the Ulster final, Tyrone did the same and, as one disgruntled Breffni supporter put it afterwards, they ran through a half-hearted defence: “Like castor oil through a cat”.

Mickey Harte’s men had it all their own way and they progress to the Super 8s with three commanding wins in the Qualifiers.

The one setback for the Red Hands was the needless injury-time black card shown to Peter Harte – his third of the season after perceived misdemeanours against Donegal and Longford – which means he will miss next Saturday’s Super 8 opener against Roscommon. Tyrone will appeal that suspension and they'll be confident that Harte, one of their nine scorers on Saturday, will be available for the trip to ‘The Hyde’.

They’ll need him for that one but, such was their superiority, they could probably have done without him at Clones. Cavan began the game with a little gusto but the determination and energy they had shown to battle back against and then beat Armagh in the Ulster semi-final replay quickly petered out as the Tyrone clipped over score after simple score.

Fifteen minutes into the game, fans in blue already were already sensing that the writing was on the wall.

“Och wud yiz push out on them,” roared a Cavan supporter, who was long gone by the final whistle.

It mattered not because Tyrone were far superior in their movement, skill, physicality and passing and by the break they led 0-12 to 0-3 with the game in the bag.

Cavan had started with purpose. Dara McVeety, left up front on his own, was first to an early ball and was taken down by a combination of marker Ronan McNamee and covering defender Rory Brennan.

Niall Murray curled over the free to give his side the lead for the only time in the game and the Breffnimen immediately flooded the Tyrone half to pile the pressure on Niall Morgan’s restart.

But the Red Hands smuggled the ball calmly up the field and Brian Kennedy equalised before Morgan’s free edged them in front.

Gearoid McKiernan had equalised with a free before Harte leapt to grab Morgan’s inch-perfect kick-out into a pocket of space and Colm Cavanagh and Brian Kennedy were also involved in a sweeping move that ended with Niall Sludden hooking an audacious effort over his shoulder.

Tyrone never looked back after that. Kennedy advanced again from midfield and took Cathal McShane’s pass before hitting a low shot that Raymond Galligan deflected onto a post.

It was the only goal chance Tyrone created in the first half but they nailed nine more points. Morgan hit a 45 and Cavanagh and a McShane free stretched the Red Hands’ lead to four. Darren McCurry, breaking onto the ball with intent from midfield, stroked over three beauties (two with his left boot and one with his right) in almost as many minutes and another McShane free had Tyrone 0-10 to three points ahead after half-an-hour.

Referee Barry Cassidy did nothing to lift the dark cloud that had settled over the long-suffering Cavan faithful when he ignored a foul on Killian Clarke and then penalised Conor Moynagh for a barge into McShane’s back. McShane, flawless with five out of five and once again full of powerful running, clipped over the free.

When Cavan tried to rally, Cian Mackey and Martin Reilly (both largely anonymous) were both clattered by beefy tackles and by the time the ball was – inevitably – turned over, Conor Moynagh was limping back forlornly back towards his own half

McShane landed another free to complete Tyrone’s first half dozen and there seemed no prospect of Cavan challenging the Red Hand dominance – never mind getting back into the game – in the second half.

Manager Mickey Graham threw on Stephen Murray and Caoimhin O’Reilly at the break (Conor Madden and Oisin Kiernan had come on during the first half) and once again Cavan drew first blood when Gerry Smith got forward to land a good score.

But normal service resumed and Tyrone replied through Sludden and Harte. McKiernan, well shackled by Hugh Pat McGeary, landed a free before Cavan’s prospects went from bad to worse when defensive lynchpin Killian Clarke was shown a black card for a crude rugby-style tackle on Mattie Donnelly.

Another Harte free was followed by one of the best of Tyrone’s 21 scores as McShane burst into space, grabbed McGeary’s accurate pass, turned one way, then the other and sent a right foot shot whistling over the Cavan bar.

Another point from the swashbuckling Owen Roe’s forward left it 0-17 to 0-5 with 20 minutes to go and suddenly Saturday night Mass became the preferred option for the Cavan fans who began to head for the exits after McVeety curled over a third wide in-a-row for their punch drunk side.

Meanwhile, Tyrone showcased the talent on their bench. Six second half subs trotted on and the operation never missed a beat. One of them, Ben McDonnell, leapt to grab a punt forward by another, Kyle Coney, into the square. He shrugged off Galligan, turned and slipped the ball into the Cavan net to put the tin hat on the Red Hands’ masterclass.

Conall McCann and two more from Harte ended the rout before McVeety, Cavan’s attacking spearhead this season, managed his first point of the game with 30 seconds of normal time left.

Four minutes were added on and there was enough time for Morgan to deny Madden a consolation goal and for referee Cassidy to expel Peter Harte.

Manager Mickey Harte confirmed afterwards that Tyrone will be appealing all three black cards shown to the Errigal Ciaran star.

“Where was the deliberate intent?” he asked with justification.

Even black cards have silver linings though. Harte can use the treatment of his nephew as a little extra motivation for the crucial Super 8 opener in Roscommon next week.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45); HP McGeary, R McNamee, R Brennan; M Cassidy, F Burns, C Meyler; C Cavanagh (0-1), B Kennedy (0-1); M Donnelly, N Sludden (0-2), P Harte (0-4, 0-3 frees); D McCurry (0-3), C McShane (0-6, 0-4 frees), K McGeary.

Subs: K Coney for McCurry (45), P Hampsey for HP McGeary (48), M McKernan for Cassidy (49), B McDonnell (1-0) for K McGeary (54), C McCann (0-1) for Sludden (58), R Donnelly for McShane (60)

Yellow cards: Cavanagh (12), McCurry (33)

Cavan: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; C Rehill, K Clarke, Ciaran Brady; Conor Brady, G McKiernan (0-2 frees); N Murray (0-2 frees), D McVeety (0-1), G Smith (0-1); O Kiernan, C Mackey, M Reilly.

Subs: C Madden (0-1) for Rehill (23), O Kiernan for McLoughlin (32), C O’Reilly for Brady (HT), S Murray for Reilly (HT), K Brady for Faulkner (55)

Yellow cards: Fortune (33), O’Reilly (60), Conor Brady (67)

Black card: Clarke (45) was replaced by T Galligan

Attendance: 11,258

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)

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