Cavan threaten an upset but Tyrone do enough to win in extra-time

Tyrone held a six-point half-time lead but a second-half comeback from Cavan forced the Red Hands to battle for the victory

Ulster SFC: Tyrone 1-23 Cavan 3-16 (AET)

Just 22 hours after Donegal produced a seismic upset in Celtic Park, Cavan came close to replicating it with a stirring comeback but, in the end, in a baking Breffni Park, Tyrone’s cool heads told as they held on to win by a point in extra-time.

Brian Dooher’s side looked to be cruising when they opened up a 1-16 to 1-8 lead 16 minutes into the second half but the hosts threw everything at them, rattling in two goals.

Tyrone were ahead by 1-10 to 1-4 at half-time in normal time and full value for it. They flooded bodies back and invited Cavan on and when they forced a turnover, they exposed gaps in the home defence.

After a tense opening six minutes, Cavan opened the scoring with a well-taken Cian Madden effort but the tone was set immediately when, from the resulting kick-out, Tyrone cut Cavan open and Darren McCurry fired over. The Red Hands were soon in for another half chance, this time Michael McKernan knocking over, but Cavan landed a huge blow when Oisin Brady and Conor Brady combined to find Madden, who wriggled free to blast into the roof of the net.


That made it 1-1 to 0-2 but, from there till the break, Tyrone dictated the terms and out-scored the hosts by 1-8 to 0-3.

McKernan kicked his second and then found Darragh Canavan, who won and converted a free. A McCurry free left the visitors in front again and, as the second quarter progressed, Cavan ran out of ideas.

Liam Gray, making his championship debut and his first appearance this season in any competition, rattled the net from close range after Kieran McGeary and Brian Kennedy did well and from there, Tyrone looked comfortable. Too often, there were defensive mismatches with Cavan forwards Paddy Lynch and Madden finding themselves in the full-back line. Against that, it was home defenders Luke Fortune, Brían O’Connell and Killian Brady who came up with their next three scores from play – but each one had to be chiselled out of granite.

Kennedy, Ruairi Canavan, Darragh Canavan (two in a minute) and Ciaran Daly all registered and by the the midway point, Cavan were glad to hear the whistle – but how it all would change.

On the resumption, McKernan opened the scoring before Cavan replied through Lynch and Oisin Brady. The elder Canavan and Lynch traded scores from play, as did the excellent Mattie Donnelly and Gerry Smith, but when Tyrone strung together three in succession – the Canavans sandwiching a 50-metre Niall Morgan free – that seemed to be that.

But with Padraig Hampsey, who had marshalled Lynch well, off on a black card, Cavan’s subs impressing and the crowd coming to life, the hosts revelled in a chaotic final quarter.

For the second match in succession, Padraig Faulkner blasted to the net. Then, Oisin Brady pointed and Niall Carolan gathered at the back post and tucked low past Morgan. And when Brady curled over the equaliser, the Breffni men were looking good. Both registered in the closing stages but it fell to Brían O’Connell, who made some vital turnovers as well as scoring 0-2, to fist the equaliser.

In energy-sapping conditions, Darragh Canavan and Niall Devlin scored in the first half of injury-time, Tiarnan Madden replied but Tyrone’s high press was rewarded with a Tiernan Quinn free and although Paddy Lynch had a similar effort, Cavan ran out of time.

Cavan: G O’Rourke; Cian Reilly, K Brady (0-1), B O’Connell (0-2); P Faulkner (1-0), N Carolan (1-0), Conor Brady; L Fortune (0-1), O Kiernan; Ciaran Brady, G Smith (0-1), O Kiernan; C Madden (1-1), P Lynch (0-5, three frees), O Brady (0-3). Subs: J Smith for O Kiernan (33 mins), T Madden (0-2) for O Kiernan, J McLoughlin for L Fortune (both h-t), Cormac O’Reilly for C Madden (48), K Clarke for K Brady (61), C Rehill for N Carolan (78), R Donohoe for P Faulkner (79), T Hofmann for Ciaran Brady (83)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, free); C Devlin, P Hampsey, M McKernan (0-3); S O’Donnell, M Donnelly (0-1), N Devlin (0-1); B Kennedy (0-1), A Donaghy; C Daly (0-1), K McGeary, L Gray (1-0); D McCurry (0-4, two frees), D Canavan (0-7, three frees), R Canavan (0-2). Subs: B Cullen (0-1) for K McGeary (53 mins), C McShane for R Canavan (58), J Oguz for A Donaghy (60), M O’Neill for L Gray (66), L McGarrity for B Kennedy (70), T Quinn (0-1, one free) for D McCurry (77), C Cush for D Canavan (83), N McCarron for C Devlin (86).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).