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Cavanagh looks to taste Mayo win

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

TYRONE captain Sean Cavanagh says it's important to quickly rectify what went wrong in Ballybofey and turn in a quality performance this weekend against Mayo.

The Connacht men travel to Omagh for a crunch NFL Division One tie, and the Red Hands are under pressure to bounce back from a six points defeat to Donegal.

"You always have motivation out there but possibly against Mayo it will be more about putting this performance behind us," said Cavanagh.

“We really have to get over this and prove to our supporters and ourselves that we're better than this. It's going to be a couple of days of having the head down and trying to wonder what happened. It's a cliche but we have to fix it this week and go at Mayo with everything we have."

Ballybofey is a bogey venue for Tyrone, and it's a long time since they have emerged from MacCumhaill Park with a positive result.

"It's hard to put your finger on it, the preparation was done and we had a good second-half performance against Cavan. There's something about this place, every time it seems to be raining and windy, it just seems difficult to get points out of it," said Cavanagh.

“There is that parochial element that Donegal seem to thrive on. You have to hold your hands up, they were just

a much superior outfit and that's given us something to think about because we thought we were further on that what we showed tonight.

"It's hard to put your finger on why. We're used to training in Garvaghey in the rain and rain but guys were just making uncharacteristic errors. We were slipping and sliding and handling wasn't good."

The treble All-Ireland winner was at a loss to explain the disappointing display by the team, which struggled to get going at any stage of a tetchy encounter.

"It just felt on the field that we couldn't get up to the pace of the game. It's head-scratching stuff because we train very hard every night and we had a spring in our step over the past couple of years.

"To come like a place like this and let ourselves down, you do feel sorry for the supporters because they come here on the back of high hopes. We haven't lost in the league in a long time and to not give a good account was very disappointing and demoralising."

A series of skirmishes in the second half broke the momentum of the game and made it difficult for Tyrone to set about pegging back their opponents.

"It's tough because with all the off-the-ball stuff, it probably suited Donegal more than it suited ourselves. The more we tried to get the game moving the more off-the-ball stuff happened.

“That's part and parcel of the game. The reality was, Donegal had a much stronger first-half than we did and it was always going to be difficult to get back into the game barring a goal or something like that.

It was just something that didn't happen for us.

"Everyone's disappointed, nobody's really talking very much [in the changing room]. It's time to lick our wounds and take stock of what's just happened. We've two games left in the league and we have to respond."

This was a chastening lesson for some of Tyrone's newer breed of player who are unaccustomed to defeat with Tyrone. Perhaps in the long-term it will stand to them.

"I can't remember the last time we got a result out of place. The younger guys really have to learn from this. There's a few guys who haven't experienced days like this, who haven't experienced dogfights like this.

"We failed tonight, we failed miserably. Maybe tonight will help a bit of character and fight because if it doesn't maybe we're not as far along as we think we are."

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