All Ireland SFC Qualifiers: Tyrone edge out Cavan
All Ireland SFC Round Three Qualifier
TYRONE 0-18 CAVAN 1-12
By Paul Fitzpatrick at Brewster Park
Cavan’s wait for a first Championship victory over Tyrone since 1983 will go on for another year at least after the Red Hands survived a minor second-half scare to come through by three points here.
Mickey Harte’s men were four up at half-time, 0-9 to 0-5, and extended that advantage to five early in the second half before Cavan, now backed by a slight wind, came roaring back into the contest, inspired by a goal from Martin Reilly.
Crucially, though, although Cavan drew level on three occasions, they were unable to edge in front and Tyrone, showcasing their vast experience, always seemed capable of mustering a response when it was needed.
Tyrone, the odds-on favourites, started the brighter and were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after nine minutes, Mattie Donnelly, Peter Harte (free), Niall Sludden with a long-range beauty and Tiernan McCann supplying their scores and Ciaran Brady on the mark for the Blues.
Cavan settled into the contest, though, and turned the tables on Mickey Harte’s men. With Sean Johnston threading some decent ball inside, they reeled off three in a row from Dara McVeety, Killian Clarke and McVeety again to draw level.
A 45-metre Frank Burns effort was cancelled out by another from McVeety but Tyrone owned the final 15 minutes of the first half. Cavan, defending deep and no longer pushing men forward, found themselves struggling to create scoring opportunities and points from Cathal McShane, McCann, McShane again and Donnelly – all of them after turnovers – left four between them at the break.
Connor McAlliskey opened the second half scoring with a free but a brilliant tackle from Killian Brady denied the Red Hands a certain goal and Cavan visibly grew in confidence.
A free from McKiernan got the scoreboard ticking over again and then when Martin Reilly rose to flick a Conor Bradley delivery to the net, Cavan were back within one.
Better was to follow when the excellent McKiernan fielded the resulting kick-out and fired over an inspirational score to draw them level at 1-7 to 0-10 but asked a big question, the 2017 Ulster champions responded in style.
Ronan O’Neill kicked a free and McCann released Sludden to waltz through to put two between them again.
Again, Cavan replied through Oisin Kiernan and a superb score from Sean Johnston – possibly his last in a Cavan jersey – to tie it again entering the home stretch but Tyrone would out-score the underdogs 0-6 to 0-3 in the final 15 minutes.
Richie Donnelly and Conor Moynagh traded scores but Tyrone had more energy about them by now and points from O’Neill (two), Burns, Harte (free) and Sludden helped them ease home, with McKiernan – Cavan’s best player on the day – grabbing two at the other end.
Scorers for Cavan: Gearoid McKiernan 0-4 (2fs), Dara McVeety 0-3, Martin Reilly 1-0, Killian Clarke 0-1, Sean Johnston 0-1, Ciaran Brady 0-1, Conor Moynagh 0-1, Oisin Kiernan 0-1.
Scorers for Tyrone: Niall Sludden 0-3, Ronan O’Neill 0-3 (1f), Tiarnan McCann 0-2, Frank Burns 0-2, Peter Harte 0-2 (2fs), Colm Cavanagh 0-2, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Cathal McShane 0-2, Richard Donnelly 0-1, Connor McAliskey 0-1 (f).
CAVAN: James Farrelly, Killian Brady, Conor Moynagh, Enda Flanagan, Ciaran Brady, Martin Reilly, Fergal Reilly, Dara McVeety, Killian Clarke, Oisin Kiernan, Gearoid McKiernan, Niall Murray, Conor Bradley, Cian Mackey, Sean Johnston.
Subs: Sean McCormack for Clarke (34 mins), Adrian Cole for Mackey (HT), Jason McLoughlin for Flanagan, Padraig Faulkner for Murray (both 44 mins), Caoimhin O’Reilly for Johnston (65), Mackey for K Brady (66).
TYRONE: Michael O’Neill, Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee, Tiarnan McCann, Michael McKernan, Frank Burns, Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh, Declan McClure, Mattie Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Conor Meyler, Cathal McShane, Richard Donnelly, Connor McAliskey
Subs: Ronan O’Neill for McAlliskey (45 mins), Kieran McGeary for McShane (51), Harry Loughran for McClure (67), Cathal McCarron for McKernan (68), Conall McCann for Meyler (69), Rory Brennan for Sludden (70).
REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath).