Sports

Tyrone thump Donegal to earn Ulster final place

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Tyrone thump Donegal to earn Ulster final place thumbnailTyrone’s Sean Cavanagh was one of the happiest men in Clones as his side thumped Donegal to book their place in the Ulster SFCFinal.

Tyrone proved the critics wrong with a magnificent display of total football, and  captain Sean Cavanagh was one of the happiest men in Clones following a thumping nine points win over Donegal.

The Red Hands charged into the Ulster SFC final for the second year in a row with a defiant message to all the big gaelic football powers in the country.

They were simply unstoppable as they dismantled the Tir Chonail game plan and imposed themselves on the contest.

"We probably felt we had a point to prove today and we did that," said Cavanagh.

"Donegal will feel it was a bad day at the office but from our point of view we're going to come back here and have another rattle at an Ulster title."

The treble All-Ireland winner is confident the team is on the right track, and set to march on to greater success as the transition approaches completion, with a raft of young players reaching maturity as top-class inter-county footballers.

"We feel we've been on this journey for three or four years and we've been refining and rebuilding the system as we've gone along.

"We haven't always received kind plaudits for it but we always believed that we had the quality to play football that could do damage.

"I feel we've been waiting and waiting for that performance to come together and it's nice whenever it comes together like that."

The Red Hands blitzed their opponents with a string of points during a dominant period approaching half-time, and the four-time All-Star knew Donegal would have to abandon their carefully crafted strategy and mve out of their comfort zone if they were to have any chance of dragging themselves back into contention.

"We knew at half-time it would be difficult for Donegal to impose their game-plan, which is to play on the break, it was a matter of getting into the space and you could see the athleticism of the team after half-time and the game was probably over at that stage.

"It felt in that 15, 20 minutes before half time like a performance that was close to what we expect, and what I have come to expect in Tyrone, through the 2000s.

"We were no world beaters coming into this game, though we tend not to focus too much on what is said in the media before games.

"We knew, or I believed, in the talent we had in the squad and it came together. We should have had two or three goals, including one from myself, but nice to pierce holes in a tough rearguard."

Tyrone had been accused of lacking a cutting edge up front, but hefty score-lines in their two championship games to date have gone some way towards altering that view.

"We have been feeling even through the league, we were kicking a lot of wides, and felt that some of the criticism wasn't all that warranted because we were creating the chances.

"Sometimes it just clicks and things start to work and balls start going over the bar. Our biggest disappointment is that balls didn't go in the net but hopefully they'll come on a different day. But we have the players who can pierce holes and we dominated in that period."

Younger brother Colm put in a momentous performance at St Tiernach's Park, and Sean paid tribute to the contribution of the midfielder, who was supremely effective as sweeper, with a series of mighty fetches from the skies. 

"It's amazing, I don't know how he gets up that height. That's been coming for the last number of years.

"He is the best defensive sweeper in the game and probably has been for the last three or four years. He is a crucial part of our system and the way we play football."

But despite a massive 1-21 to 1-12 success, Cavanagh said it's important the Tyrone players remain grounded and continue to work hard on their game.

"We were third favourites in Ulster coming into this game so I don't think we'll get too carried away. But we're there, we're where we want to be.

"We've been starved of Ulster finals, last year was the first in six years, so it won't be hard to get the boys up for it again. When you miss Ulster for a while it becomes very important and last year was very important for us, and this would equally mean a lot.

"It's another rung in the latter but nothing's won yet. We are ticking along nicely and hopefully we our bringing our best form into the summer."

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