Wednesday night’s Cadbury’s Under 21 Championship Final between Tyrone and Cavan is sure to draw a large crowd to Brewster Park in Enniskillen. Both teams have shown in their previous games that they are well capable of playing high quality football and the final promises to be a very competitive game.
It took Raymond Munroe’s side three attempts to get past Down in the first round and Tyrone were pushed all the way against Monaghan in the semi final before a late John Mc Cullagh point edged it for The Red Hands. Cavan dispensed with Fermanagh comfortably in the first round and saw off the threat of a highly rated Donegal team in the semi finals. Managed by Val Andrews and Terry Hyland the Breffni boys are coming into this game in confident mood.
There has been much talk about the potential of their forward unit where AFL target Barry Reilly has been in very impressive form. He is well supported by Niall Mc Dermott on the square whose two corner men Brady and Leddy have pace and skill in abundance. However it is the commitment and hunger of this Cavan side that has impressed most observers this year and they will lack nothing in terms of passion when they take to the field on Wednesday night.
Tyrone struggled to cope with the movement and quality of Monaghan last time out and their defence will face an even sterner test this time around. Cavan are similar to Monaghan in their high intensity and hard working style of play and if Tyrone fail to match the Blues work rate Val Andrew’s side could well lift their first provincial title at Under 21 level since 1996.
It is hard to know what to expect from Tyrone as their form during this competition has ranged from dire to superb. Their win over Down was a case in point. During the opening twenty five minutes Tyrone were all at sea as Down cruised into a six point lead. However from then on we saw glimpses of the real Tyrone as they overhauled the deficit in the five minutes before half time and produced some of the best football this team has played all year.
Attitude will be a hugely determining factor in the outcome of this final. If Tyrone can match Cavan for hunger and intensity and maintain that for the sixty minutes they are capable of winning. Players like Peter Harte, Mattie and Richie Donnelly, Ronan O’Neill and Kyle Coney are among the most talented in this age group in the country. But talent will only take you so far. It has to be matched with drive and determination to succeed. If Tyrone can get the balance right against Cavan they are talented enough to lift the county’s 12th provincial title at this level. However should they come up short in terms of hunger it could well be the Breffni players and supporters who will be celebrating at the end and looking forward to facing Wexford on Saturday night in Parnell Park in Dublin.