GAA Football

Tyrone boss Feargal Logan wants response against Armagh after thrashing by Cavan

Darren McCurry of Tyrone, shown being challenged by Killian Clarke of Cavan, was one of many Red Hands to misfire in their Dr McKenna Cup opener.
Picture: Oliver McVeigh

TYRONE’S All-Ireland triumph last September was out of this world but they crashed back down to earth with a huge bang against Cavan on Tuesday night.

Admittedly with some players just back from a team holiday in Florida, and an under-strength selection, the Red Hands got their hides tanned by the Breffnimen, who were in complete command throughout at Kingspan Breffni in the Dr McKenna Cup and ran out very easy winners, by 1-17 to 0-5.

Joint-manager Feargal Logan tentatively agreed with the contention that even such a heavy defeat was ‘no cause for concern’, given that Tyrone lined out with only four of their All-Ireland starting side, and only sent on three more in the second half, one of those (Michael McKernan) for a matter of minutes.

“Hopefully not, hopefully not,” said the Stewartstown man, although he wore a worried look, immediately adding “but you don’t like to take to a football field and surrender the position like we did.

“Listen, yeah, we’re just back home out of the States, and it’ll hopefully bring everybody round in terms of getting ready for 2022. Cavan deserve full credit for the way they took us on and gave us a bit of a lesson.”

He also only half-agreed when it was put to him that Tyrone had deployed a lot of young players, with six starters getting their senior county debuts:

“Possibly, but we have good players coming through and we have to give them opportunities - they got opportunities. Cavan had men coming in, most counties are using the McKenna Cup that way.

“We’re not making any excuses: we came here and were soundly beaten. That’s life, that’s football. We just have to start again on Thursday night and get at it at the weekend.”

The weekend means hosting old rivals Armagh on Saturday, with the Orchardmen coming to Healy Park having beaten Cavan by four points in the opener.

If Kieran McGeeney’s men avoid defeat they will definitely progress to the McKenna Cup semi-finals, whereas Tyrone are highly unlikely to progress, despite one journalist’s optimistic query to Logan about the Red Hands getting more games in this competition:

“If that’s achievable… I’d need to look at it but the bottom line is that that score difference hasn’t helped us any. Of course we’d love more competitive games, and the League is going to come up on everybody very quickly.”

Tyrone begin Division One of the National Football League on Sunday January 30 at home to Monaghan, whom they pipped in last year’s Ulster Final, and Seamus McEnaney’s side have had a good McKenna Cup so far, drawing in Derry then beating Fermanagh.

Logan is still glad to have faced Cavan, and welcomes the weekend showdown against Armagh, saying: “At least we have these games and we’re better to get a wake-up call now rather than get it in three weeks’ time. Fair play to Cavan, well done to Cavan. We just have to lick our wounds and start again.”

Part of that process will involve working on their kick-out strategy, which malfunctioned on Tuesday night. Young Lorcan Quinn made his debut between the posts but there was much more wrong with the Tyrone performance overall, and even the workings of their kick-outs, than anything the Donaghmore lad did, as Logan made clear:

“The bottom line is it shows you the importance of goalkeepers and kick-outs at the moment. Unless you get people into the arena to give them experience, it’s not easy. It’s a very high-pressure position now; it always was as a goalkeeper but it’s accentuated now with what’s expected of keepers.

“The men out the field, maybe the line was a bit high, and that caused a bit of difficulty. But Cavan had the hunger, Cavan were up for it, and they took us on.

“Kick-outs, defensive stuff, shooting, conversion rates - you could pick anyone of them and we could talk about them in terms of deficits.

“Every now and then in football the satellite goes off-beam on a team and once it goes off-beam…All managers have been through days when everything goes off-beam - that’s life.”

Tyrone will soar again - but for now the Red Hands are just sore after taking a helluva beating.

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