Feature: Cavan’s Red Hand hoodoo

The Breffni County’s last championship win over Tyrone came all the way back in 1983, here’s the story of their meetings since as Cavan aim to end the losing streak this weekend


IRVINESTOWN hosted a high-scoring semi-final as Tyrone eased to a 2-16 to 1-12 win. Stephen Rice grabbed both goals on the day while Damian O’Hagan, who was Tyrone’s top scorer in the championship that season, hit half a dozen points. Mickey Mallon also chipped in with five points with Ray Carolan hitting five points for the losing outfit. Tyrone, of course, would follow that up with an Ulster title and a run to the All-Ireland final where they would come unstuck against Kerry having led by seven points in the second half.


TYRONE’S second appearance in the Sam Maguire showpiece also included a victory over Cavan en-route, this time in the Ulster final in July. Dermot McCabe missed a massive goal chance for the Breffni County early on as Finbar McConnell smothered his effort from close range, and the Red Hand goalie would deny Fintan Cahill with a smart stop later in the half. Tyrone had no such issues in the second half at Clones, Mattie McGleenan fisting home before Adrian Cush fired low to the net to spark a crowd invasion and, more importantly, seal a 2-13 to 0-10 win.


TYRONE and Cavan’s next meeting was once again an Ulster final, and once again it was the Red Hands who emerged victorious following a hard-fought 1-13 to 1-11 win at Clones. It was a special day for Tyrone as having won the Ulster U-20 title earlier in the season, the minors also came out on top to complete the provincial treble. Cavan should have spoiled the party tHough as they missed chance after chance in the second half. They led 1-8 to 1-5 at the break, Jason Reilly scoring the goal after the late Cormac McAnallen had raised a green flag for the champions, but the favourites took control after the break.


CAVAN at least earned a draw with Tyrone in ’05, but they would lose the replay to the eventual All-Ireland champions. It was in the Ulster semi-final where they crossed paths, and Mickey Harte was left scratching his head at how they hadn’t won the first day. In a dogged encounter, Stevie O’Neill had given them the lead for the first time late on but Michael Lyng drew Cavan, who goaled through Jason O’Reilly and had Paul Brady sent off, level in the eighth minute of additional time to leave it 0-10 to 1-7. There was a skirmish at full-time but the fireworks were missing in the replay as Tyrone eased to a massive 3-19 to 0-7 win, O’Neill, Peter Canavan and Philly Jordan with their majors.


IT took two games again in 2016 but the other was the same – Tyrone bossing the Ulster semi-final replay. The first day out was a thriller, David Givney and Conor Moynagh, after a delayed decision by the umpires, grabbing goals to give the Breffni outfit a 2-3 to 0-8 interval lead. Tyrone gradually took control of proceedings and led by three as the game drew to a close, but there was still enough time for Givney to punch home his second goal to secure the draw, 3-7 to 0-16. If Cavan had been offered a 2-17 scoreline in the replay they would have grabbed it with both hands, but unfortunately for them Tyrone hit an incredible 5-18. Peter Harte grabbed the first two before Connor McAliskey and Rory Brennan found the net. Cian Mackey and Mark Bradley swapped majors before Jack Brady grabbed a consolation goal for the Breffni men.


THIS game got caught up in the ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ saga before a ball was even kicked as it was originally due to be a double-header with Kildare and Mayo before being switched to Enniskillen. Only three points separated the sides at Brewster Park, Tyrone winning 0-18 to 1-12, but Mickey Harte’s side were best for the majority of the contest. A fine second quarter saw them lead 0-9 to 0-5 at the break and although they stretched that on the resumption, Cavan fought back bravely with a Martin Reilly goal helping them draw level. The game was there to be won, but it was Tyrone who reasserted their dominance in the searing heat.


CAVAN made it all the way to the 2019 Ulster final, where they lost to Donegal in a high-scoring encounter, but Tyrone ruthlessly ended their season next time out. That was a round four Qualifier in Clones and the Red Hands dominated on their way to a 1-20 to 0-7 win. Darren McCurry and Cathal McShane kicked three points each as they went in 0-12 to 0-03 ahead at the break, and it was more of the same from there. The goal came from the bench as Ben McDonnell put the seal on an easy day’s work for the Red Hands.


TYRONE’S march to a fourth All-Ireland title included a routine provincial quarter-final win over Cavan, Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan’s side winning 1-18 to 0-13 in Omagh. Cavan went into the game as Ulster holders, but had been relegated to Division Four weeks before and the difference in class showed. The first 30 minutes was an even affair with just a point between the sides, but Tyrone, who were helped by 10 Darren McCurry points on the day, made a charge at the end of the first half to open up a comfortable gap. Brian Kennedy’s second-half goal added the gloss, although Ronan McNamee was sent off late on.

Photo caption

CLOSE BUT NOT ENOUGH…Cavan gave their all in the 1995 Ulster final, especially in the first half, but Tyrone were too strong

Photo caption

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW