Fears grow over Cav's fitness

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

CONCERN is growing for Tyrone's All-Star midfielder Colm Cavanagh ahead of next month's Ulster Football Championship opener against Monaghan.

Almost a month after damaging a quad muscle, he has still been unable to return to training, and hopes of facing the Farney men on May 20 are fading.

Match fitness is also a pressing issue for the Moy man, who has played just one full game for the Red Hands this season, due to his involvement in his club's All-Ireland winning campaign, followed by injury setback.

The news is more hopeful on wing back Tiernan McCann, who is back in light training following a lengthy absence due to injury.

He damaged a kneecap in the NFL clash with Kildare on February 11, but is in line to feature in Tyrone's first defence of the Ulster title on May 20.

Cavanagh, who helped Moy to a historic All-Ireland Club IFC title earlier this season, has started to do some light work as part of his rehab programme, but faces a race against time for the first defence of the provincial championship title.

"Colm hasn't been able to return to training as yet. with the type of injury that he has, it's rest and recovery, and any exertion can exacerbate his problem," said Tyrone PRO Eugene McConnell.

"The scan at the outset suggested that it could take five or six weeks."

Cavanagh and McCann are both key men in the Tyrone set-up, two of the most important players in Mickey Harte's side, and the loss of either of them would be a major blow. The absence of both would represent a serious setback in the Red Hands' bid to win a third successive provincial title.

"These two men are pivotal," the PRO added.

McCann has been out of action since damaging a kneecap in the League win over Kildare on February 11, and while he has resumed training, the Killyclogher man still has some way to go.

"He's maybe not back in intensive training yet, but he's back out and mobile again, and doing enough to merit consideration for selection," said McConnell.

"He seems to be moving okay, but that's no guarantee that he'll be ready."

McConnell added: "Mickey (Harte)  has the experience and the know-how to decide when decisions can be made on whether they will make it for May 20, how long to give these lads to prove their fitness.

"He knows when his limit is stretched to in terms of a make-or-break deadline, when a call will have to be made on whether or not to include them, but he's going to give them as long as he possibly can, because he knows how important they are to the team.

"Injuries do take time to heal, and he's erring on the side of caution, hoping that they will make it, but obviously there's no guarantee."

Malachy O'Rourke's Monaghan will travel to Omagh with high hopes of turning Tyrone over, following an impressive League campaign which saw some exciting new talent emerge.

"Monaghan are waiting there with an ambush in mind. they have got one up on us in the National League," said McConnell.

"Of course the cut and thrust of Championship football is totally different, but psychologically they will be saying to themselves, we have the measure of Tyrone, and for their players, that league win will be a big confidence booster.

"It will be a massive challenge for Tyrone there's no doubt, but let's hope that Tyrone have the experience, and the know-how to win Ulster Championships. the last two years have been testimony to that, and wouldn't it be nice to win three in a row.

"It all lends itself to an absorbing tie on the 20th of May."

Meanwhile, Tyrone pair Michael McKernan and Mark Bradley have been selected for the Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Stars team for 2018.

Coalisland's McKernan and Killyclogher clubman Bradley have been recognised for their outstanding displays for Ulster University in this year's Sigerson Cup series.

Higher Education GAA has announced the names of exciting young talents in Gaelic Games who make up the Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Stars in football and hurling for 2018.

These awards acknowledge outstanding performances in the battle for the third level football and hurling championships and come at the end of what was another epic season of third level GAA action.

Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup hurling champions UL were a class apart in 2018. They dominate the final 15 with no fewer than seven young heroes chosen on a star-studded selection that has a representation from across five teams and includes names already well-known at inter-county level such as Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell, Waterford's Colin Dunford, and Tipp duo Jason Forde and John McGrath.

The battle for the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup was also a close fought affair and again there are five third level institutions contributing star players with UCD (5) and NUIG (4) the dominant presence.

Kerry's Jack Barry and Galway's Damien Comer feature and were also busy this spring at senior inter-county level. Another name to watch is Andrew McGowan from Kilmacud Crokes and DIT who was part of the Dublin panel that beat Galway in this year's Allianz football league final.

 Congratulating the winners, Uachtarán CLG John Horan said: "Over the last number of years it has become a real statement of intent from young players involved at third level football and hurling championships that the form they show here is a sign of things to come at inter-county level.

 "Indeed, many of those chosen here have already embarked on senior inter-county careers and are making headlines. I've no doubt more of these names will follow them in the years to come.

"We are delighted that our third-level institutions, which are rated so highly all over the world for the calibre of young people they help to mould, are so committed to the promotion and playing of our Games and we appreciate that support.

"The Higher Education competitions produce games of the highest quality and these awards carry a major standing as a result.

"Our thanks to Electric Ireland for their support and we look forward to watching these young heroes continue to develop their talents at club and county level."

Electric Ireland, Jim Dollard, Executive Director, Electric Ireland said: "We in Electric Ireland have been delighted to extend our GAA sponsorship portfolio this year to include the Higher Education Leagues and Championships.  For those involved in sport at third level, representing their college is special and it is the Higher Education Leagues and Championships that provide this sporting opportunity.

"Electric Ireland wished to bring to the fore through the First Class Rivals campaign, the unique aspect of the Championships which sees rivals at County level, coming together in College with one goal - to win the highly coveted Fitzgibbon or Sigerson trophies. Through our campaign we sought to raise the profile of these wonderful competitions, celebrate the meaning and the emotion attached to the games.

"The Electric Ireland HE GAA Rising Star Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to recognise exceptionally talented players across the country for their enviable dedication to their sport but also to their third level institution.

"Electric Ireland wishes to congratulate not only the Hurling and Football Teams of the Year but also the 7,000 students who took part in the Championships, making it a huge success and a thrill to follow."


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