It is hard to know whether the number of games some players have played over the past couple of weeks are starting to show in the legs but some Tyrone players did look rather tired at times during the Mc Kenna Cup semi final win over Cavan.
It has been a fairly hectic campaign in this competition so far with three league games condensed into seven days and then the semi final and final being played during what was considered a closed period for county football. The hope must be that the intensity of these games and the experience gained from them will stand to all the players later in the season and in some cases help as players seek to build their confidence for the challenges that lie ahead.
The overall team display against Cavan was far from convincing with too much broken play, poor decision making, unforced errors and sub standard finishing by the forwards. Granted the conditions on the night played a part as did Cavan’s approach as they set out to disrupt Tyrone at every opportunity. The Breffni men’s commitment on the night was more than praiseworthy but they were allowed to commit a serious number of aggressive fouls during the course of the game.
Once again Martin Penrose and Brian Mc Guigan were the pick of the forwards as they worked incessantly for the cause. Sean Cavanagh is still lacking confidence and touch but the longer the game went on the more he and Stevie O’Neill seemed to enjoy it. The last quarter in particular was very impressive from Tyrone and Mark Donnelly had a lot to do with that. He had been quiet up until that but for the final twenty minutes he tortured the Cavan defence with his strong running and ability to win the ball. The Carrickmore man will have been delighted with his form and his showing seemed to lift those around him as O’Neill, Cavanagh and Mc Niece all upped their game.
The overall highlight of the night came late in the game when Kevin Hughes sent over the score of the game from wide on the left. Hub is not renowned as a scoring midfielder but that score was as good a strike as you will see anywhere this year. Even a forward of Stephen O’Neill’s class and skill would have been delighted to have conjured up such a strike.
Next up of course comes Derry and with thoughts of last Sunday’s defeat still fresh in the minds of the players, perhaps they can gain revenge for that reversal A narrow one point defeat with such a large number of wides would appear to suggest there is not an awful lot wrong. An improved shots to scores conversion ratio would have secured the first two points of the league last Sunday and that must be a target for the team for this weekend’s fixture. Hopefully Cavanagh, O’Neill and co will continue to show the sort of form they displayed late on against Cavan and if they do the heavy demands of these past few weeks will have proved more than beneficial in the end.