By Odhrán Crumley
Cavan will travel to the Omagh for the second time in two weeks, this time they will hope to leave having played a game. Storm Doris wreaked havoc with the Healy Park pitch a fortnight ago forcing referee Davis Gough to postpone the game.
The postponement means that both sides will mean that both teams will be forced to play five game in as many weeks, with other counties enjoying a break this weekend. Tyrone currently sit second behind Dublin with one game in hand, a win this Sunday will put them top of the heap with three to play. While a loss would all but condemn Cavan to relegation back to the second tier.
Tyrone overcame a thirteen man Monaghan side last time out labouring to victory having led by seven at the break. The ever reliable Sean Cavanagh stepping up yet again, kicking two vital points at the death after he was sprung from the bench. This weekend the big Moy man will be in from the start, taking his place at 14.
The Breffni men also came up against Ulster opposition, losing out to Donegal meaning the men in blue are still in search of their first win in the top tier since 2004. One positive the Mattie McGleenan and the Cavan fateful can take from last weekend and the postponement is that the experienced Cian Mackey will be available for another game having made his first appearance since 2016 against Donegal.
In a game full of subplots between two counties who have become fairly accustomed over the last five meetings in under twelve months. Possibly the most interesting is former Tyrone player Mattie McGleenan returning to face his native county having drawn first blood getting one over Tyrone in the McKenna Cup opener. The Red Hands would go to claim the trophy but will be keen to seek revenge this weekend.
As presumed between two sides at opposing ends of the table the average scoring and concession rates of both sides provides stark contrasts. Tyrone have averaged fourteen points per game while Cavan have averaged ten. The visitors have conceded an average of fifteen points a game while their opponents have conceded an average of eleven.
Goals have been key to the winning and losing of the last four meetings; Ronan O’Neill’s goal midway through the second half killed the contest ensuring his side left Croke Park with Division Two honours. In the championship Cavan’s three were enough to force a draw while Tyrone’s five in the subsequent replay paved the way for an Ulster title. Finally an early Gerard Smith goal in this season’s McKenna cup was a blow Tyrone never recovered from.
A major would go a long way towards deciding the outcome of what is a must win for both counties, admittedly for very different reasons. One would expect a backlash from Mickey Harte’s men as they seek retribution for their only loss of this year. The early season encounter wasn’t without needle, Mattie Donnelly seeing red playing testament to this.
It is assumed that Cavan will pack the defence as they did in Monaghan with relative success earning a point. However it seems like a sure home win, but not with any degree of ease. TYRONE BY FOUR.