at Kingspan Breffni
Three days after suffering defeat in Belfast, Cavan slipped to an embarrassingly one-sided loss at home to a strong Tyrone side in tonight’s third round McKenna Cup clash.
Manager Mattie McGleenan was unwilling to speak to the media after this latest setback, which saw Cavan crash out of the competition after a 21-point loss.
Tyrone’s pace, power and movement bamboozled an inexperienced Cavan team all night and the gulf in class between a side with several newcomers to county football and one laced with Ulster medallists was painfully evident.
While there were just two points between the teams after 15 minutes, Tyrone were certainly looking more purposeful when they attacked and once they moved through the gears, they completely dominated the second quarter.
The Red Hands opened the scoring after six minutes through Niall Sludden and they added another from Peter Harte, who fisted over after Tyrone had cut through the centre – and moments later they carved out the first goal chance, when Frank Burns’s shot blasted off the black spot to safety.
Cavan were still creating chances at this juncture but wasted whatever came their way, dropping a couple of short and a couple more wide – and whatever ball was sent inside wasn’t really sticking in any case.
And then the onslaught started. Harte (free) and Mattie Donnelly quickly doubled Tyrone’s lead and when Cavan dropped a shot short, they were punished with a breakaway score from Ronan O’Neill to make it 0-5 to 0-0.
Youngster Conor Brady latched on to a Ciaran Brady pass to fist over Cavan’s only score of the half in the 20th minute but Tyrone dominated from there until the break, Ronan O’Neill kicking two superb points from play and a free, Harte converting a free and Lee Brennan tapping over from play as the visitors went in 0-11 to 0-1 in front.
It could have been worse too had Padraig McNulty not been denied by the crossbar and, in a separate attack, a stunning James Farrelly save.
The fog hanging over the stadium threatened to come down all evening and Cavan supporters could have been forgiven for hoping that it would given how the second half unfolded.
Harte and Bryan Magee traded frees before Tyrone landed three frees in a row from Ronan O’Neill (two) and Harte.
A good point from Niall McKiernan, after a run by Darragh Kennedy, got the scoreboard ticking again for the Blues but two Lee Brennan frees and a point from play by Ronan McHugh was soon followed by a beautifully-crafted Tyrone goal, finished low to the net by Niall Sludden.
They almost had another, Ciaran Brady clearing off the line, and, down 18 points, Cavan conjured a response of sorts when Oisin Kiernan, Ciaran Brady – with an excellent score – and Bryan Magee mustered some consolation scores.
However, Tyrone weren’t done yet and they added another goal from Mattie Donnelly and another brace of points to compound a miserable night for the home side.
With the NFL throwing in in 17 days’ time with a tricky-looking trip to Ennis, Cavan are in a bad place, albeit with half a dozen established players on the injured list.
While a handful of the new faces have impressed in this competition, it is likely several more will not feature again – although, to be fair, Tyrone were more or less at full strength and in typical fashion, were ruthless – if not clinical – throughout.
Cavan: James Farrelly, David Philips, Donal Monahan, Darragh Kennedy, Conor Brady (0-1), Ciaran Brady (0-1), Oisin Kiernan (0-1), Thomas Galligan, Padraig Faulkner, Jack Wharton, Enda Flanagan, Niall Clerkin, Conor Bradley, Niall McKiernan (0-1), Bryan Magee (0-2, 1f)
Subs: David Brady for Bradley (33 mins), Padraig Moore for Wharton (h/t), Conor Moynagh for Clerkin (45), Cormac Daly (0-1) for Flanagan (BC, 50), Paul Gilchreest for Galligan (55)
Tyrone: Niall Morgan, Brendan Burns, Padraig Hampsey, Hugh Pat McGearty, Michael McKernan, Tiaran McCann, Ronan McNabb, Cathal McShane, Padraig McNulty, Matthew Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte, Lee Brennan, Frank Burns, Ronan O’Neill
Subs: Cathal McCarron for Hampsey (45), Ciaran McLoughlin for McNabb (46), Ronan McHugh for Harte (50), Richard Donnelly for McNulty (53), Michael Cassidy for T McCann (65)
Ref: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)