GAA Football

Tyrone looking forward to semi-final with more hope after McShane return

Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan. Pic Philip Walsh
Kenny Archer at Healy Park

Ulster SFC quarter-final: Tyrone 1-18 Cavan 0-13

IF Tyrone were arguably almost a one-man attacking force for most of this match, shortly afterwards their forward options appeared far more exciting.

Not only was the brilliant Darren McCurry's 10-point tally augmented by the return of Cathal McShane after 16 months out, there's also the possibility that Conor McKenna could feature in next Sunday's semi-final at Brewster Park.

The Eglish man wasn't even in the matchday 26 at Healy Park but Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan explained that was a precautionary measure and hinted that he might play some part next weekend:

"It was just a small problem. Conor will hopefully be OK very soon. We took a decision that we wouldn't put him in at any stage, risk him in any shape or form. He'll be good to go, hopefully, very soon."

Even without him, Tyrone were too strong for Cavan, boosted mightily by the scoring power of McCurry. Logan was delighted but not surprised, saying: "Darren is a consummate professional, he looks after himself from top to bottom. He's totally committed and everyone in the set-up is very impressed with Darren. I hope he keeps going."

As good as some of McCurry's scores were, probably the biggest roar from the home support greeted the return to county colours for the first time since February last year of McShane following a serious ankle injury.

"It's great for Cathal to get some game-time," commented Logan. "He had a long, lonely trek for a year-and-a-half there. He was itching to go even back during the League. He did well, got a few points, and it's great for everybody that Cathal's back on board, for him in particular after such a horrific injury."

For all the talk about attackers, Logan was pleased too with the defensive effort after the embarrassment of shipping six goals to Kerry in the Division One semi-final:

"You always scrutinise yourself most of all in defeats and it was a fairly graphic one. Everyone went back to base level, stripped away any thoughts they had.

"The most important thing we had was time - we had four weeks together there which we hadn't had before, because we just had National League games. We were working hard, working our socks off, on the training field, and I'm just glad some of it showed up today…

"We were laid bare before [against Kerry] so we knew we had to tighten things up. We've good footballers and good defenders and they all did well and stuck to their guns."

Midfield also merited praise, notably a substitute and a debutant, with Logan happy at his range of options too: "Brian Kennedy came in and did very well, Conn Kilpatrick did very well, 'Sparky' Bradley could have come on earlier but the sending-off threw that plan off. They're very good footballers, you'd love to get them all game-time, but it's a happy position to be in where people are competing to be on the team.

"We've a bit to go. We've plenty to do, but we were sitting ducks, Cavan were being played down because of their League... so it was good to get a comprehensive victory."

His Cavan counterpart Mickey Graham had no complaints about the early end to their reign as Ulster champs, but did rue their inability to find the Tyrone net:

"We'd have been happy enough with the first half but we felt we left a few scores behind us. I think the turning point was just before half-time - we'd a couple of half goal opportunities but didn't get anything from them.

"If we'd have got a point or two it might have been a different story, but they got a bit of breathing space. Then the goal came from another of our errors up the field and that was enough for them to control the game after that.

"Against the big teams like Tyrone, especially in Championship football, as we'd seen last year, when goal opportunities present themselves you have to take them - and we didn't and got punished at the other end. The big teams will do that to you."

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GAA Football