By Niall Gartland
SEAN Cavanagh believes a few subtle adjustments could transform Tyrone’s season for the better as they gear up for Saturday’s All-Ireland group stage clash against Armagh.
While the Red Hands are certainly playing well, they’re yet to hit the heights that saw them surge to All-Ireland glory back in 2021.
Five-time all-star Sean Cavanagh thinks they’re on the right track but that a little surgery is required if they’re to compete for ultimate honours in the months ahead.
“There’s the structure of a good team. Things haven’t totally clicked but a couple of years ago that was also the case until they hit Croke Park and then things started to work.
“We all live in hope that one of these days they catch fire and I don’t think they’re that far away.
“I don’t think it’ll take anything too drastic, and the level of resilience they showed against Galway suggests to me that there’s still a burning desire in the team and that the talent is there.
“What we’re possibly lacking is that fast transition that Tyrone is associated with, but it wouldn’t take a major reshuffle to turn things around.
“Kieran McGeary and Niall Sludden have bagfuls of experience in that area, Seanie O’Donnell did well against Galway, Darragh has experience of playing a bit deeper with Errigal Ciaran, Conor Meyler and Petey Harte are going well, and there’s Ruairi Canavan as well. I’m hoping a wee tweak or two will make a big difference as the team has a great structure to it otherwise.”
While Armagh survived a close shave with Westmeath in their group stage opener at the weekend, Cavanagh thinks they’ll be a much more potent force when they come to town on Saturday to take on their perennial rivals across the Blackwater.
“Armagh were lucky, they got a fortuitous goal towards the end of the Westmeath game. I think possibly their performance came down to a hangover from the Ulster final, I think they’ll be a much more dangerous animal against Tyrone, and they’ll be irritated by how they performed against Westmeath as well.
“I think they’ll come to Omagh with a bit more desire, and there’s always a good atmosphere when it’s Tyrone and Armagh so it might just kick-start the championship for both teams.”
The Red Hands have a strong record at O’Neill’s Healy Park this year, winning all three of their league games before succumbing to a last-minute goal in their Ulster Championship opener against Monaghan. Cavanagh thinks the atmosphere should be at fever pitch on Saturday evening.
“Sometimes I find it can be a lonely pitch to play in, in comparison with the likes of the Athletic Grounds where the crowd is quite close to the pitch.
“But it’s looking like it could be a full house in the heat of a championship battle with both teams looking to prove themselves, so it’s all set up for a really good game.”