GAA Football

Slick Cavan swamp under-strength and unprepared Tyrone in McKenna Cup

Cavan goalscorer and 'man of the match' Gearoid McKiernan wins possession against Tyrone duo Joe Oguz and Kieran McGeary in the Dr McKenna Cup at Kingspan Breffni.
Picture: Oliver McVeigh
Kenny Archer at Kingspan Breffni

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B, round two: Cavan 1-17 Tyrone 0-5

TYRONE may have holidayed in Florida but any experience of the everglades was no use to their under-strength team as they were completely swamped by a strong Cavan side, who romped to a 15-point triumph.

Conscious of what followed a humiliating hammering by Kerry in the league last year, the Red Hands perhaps decided to start 2022 in that fashion. Yet bad as Tyrone were, Cavan were excellent, led by another superb display from goalscorer and man of the match Gearoid McKiernan.

The Cavan Gaels clubman netted the game's only goal and excelled in all aspects, soaring high for a mark as well as kicking two points in his tally of 1-4.

Tyrone handed out six senior debuts, starting with the Donaghmore duo of goalkeeper Lorcan Quinn and wing-back Shea Hamill, then Errigal Ciaran's Joe Oguz at midfield, Nathan Donnelly (Killyclogher) and Tomas Carney (Derrylaughan) as wing-forwards, with the Moy's Michael Conroy at full-forward.

Only four starters from the All-Ireland Final lined out - skipper Paudie Hampsey, vice-captain Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte, and Darren McCurry - albeit all four of them are Allstars.

Hosts Cavan made six changes from the team that lost to Armagh, bringing in Padraig Faulkner, Chris Conroy, Killian Clarke, Gerard Smith, Cormac O'Reilly, and Conor Madden. That made for eight players who started their last outing - the Ulster SFC loss away to Tyrone.

This time, however, Cavan were dominant on home soil, led by that man McKiernan, who proved too powerful and pacy for Rory Brennan.

The Breffnimen began very brightly corner-forward O'Reilly pointing inside the opening minute, and the first of a few poor Tyrone kick-outs soon led to another score from Gerard Smith.

Raymond Galligan then erred at the other end, allowing Red Hands to set up Michael Conroy for a debut score, but the tone for McCurry's night was set when he kicked a mark against the post and back into play.

Cavan raced 5-1 ahead by the 11th minute, and were 8-2 up by the first water break.

Their superiority in all respects was illustrated by James Smith casually lifting Richie Donnelly with his neck muscles, after taking a clean catch.

The game then went more than 13 minutes without a score before Cavan ended that drought with the only goal.

Once again the Tyrone kick-out failed, going straight to Jason McLoughlin on the Cavan left flank, and he delivered it right back into full-forward Paddy Lynch. The Crosserlough man was fouled as he took a mark but the referee played advantage and McKiernan took it fully, drilling the loose ball low to the net.

A Lynch free completed a half of contrasting fortunes, with the Breffnimen 10 clear, 1-9 to 0-2.

Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan sent on Conn Kilpatrick, Conor Meyler, and Carrickmore's Sean Loughran, while Mickey Graham made a classic Cavan change, replacing C O'Reilly with C O'Reilly (Caoimhin).

However, Cavan took their run of scores without reply to 10 with the first five of the second half, including two by Lynch, one of them a beauty from the left wing.

Having reduced the gap to a mere 14 points with a McCurry free, their first score for more than half an hour of play, Tyrone were then reduced to 14 men as Richie Donnelly received a second yellow card as one of four shown after several scuffles broke out.

Cavan continued to pick off scores, with Gerry Smith and Faulkner getting their names on the score sheet, either side of Rory Brennan black card taking Tyrone down to 13 men.

Yet there was obviously nothing unlucky about this defeat for the Red Hands, as Cavan ran out extremely comfortable winners to boost their chances of topping the section - if Tyrone can lift themselves to defeat Armagh on Saturday in Omagh.

Cavan: R Galligan (0-1 free); E Finnegan, P Faulkner (0-1), K Brady; J McLoughlin (0-1), C Conroy, O Kiernan; J Smith, K Clarke; G Smith (0-2), G McKiernan (1-4, 0-1 free, 0-1 mark), O Brady (0-1); Cormac O'Reilly (0-2), P Lynch (0-4, 0-1 free), C Madden.

Substitutes: Caimhin O'Reilly for O'Reilly (h-t); C Moynagh for Finnegan (48); B Kelly for K Brady (58); S Smith (0-1) for O Brady (58); L Brady for Galligan (58); M Argue for Clarke (62); P Smith for McKiernan (64); F O'Reilly for Lynch (64);

Yellow cards: Madden (38); K Brady (47); J Smith (47).

Tyrone: L Quinn; L Rafferty, C Quinn, P Hampsey; S Hamill, R Brennan, P Harte; R Donnelly, J Oguz; N Donnelly, K McGeary, T Carney; D McCurry (0-2 frees), M Conroy (0-1), L Brennan (0-1).

Substitutes: S Loughran (0-1) for Hamill (h-t); C Kilpatrick for Conroy (h-t); C Meyler for Carney (h-t); C Grimes for Rafferty (50); P Herron for N Donnelly (50); M McKernan for Hampsey (68).

Yellow cards: R Donnelly (27); McGeary (47)

Black card: R Brennan (57-67).

Red card: R Donnelly (second yellow, 47).

Referee: Kevin Faloon (Armagh).

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