David Givney’s late goal earns Cavan a replay with Tyrone

Forward’s second goal squares up matters after pulsating ding-dong encounter

Tyrone 0-16 Cavan 3-7

Finally, an Ulster Championship game worthy of the name. On a rotten day in Clones, Cavan and Tyrone served up an old-fashioned belter in the rain, a pulsating, knock-down. drag- out draw that belied the unpromising conditions.

In keeping with the faintly apocalyptic skies, Tyrone gave up three goals in a championship game for only the third time in Mickey Harte’s 14 seasons in charge.

Make no mistake though, it was Cavan who got out of jail here. When the first and last score of the game are Cavan goals, it’s no slight on them to say they were the happier to get out of Clones with a draw.


For the 65 minutes in between David Givney’s goals at either end of St Tiarnach’s Park, Tyrone had twice as many scores as Terry Hyland’s side and more than enough of the ball to put the game out of reach.

But they were made to pay for some decidedly untypical generosity in and around their square.

There’s plenty to work on here for the Tyrone video analysts. Cavan’s three goals came down different avenues, although Givney was common to them all.

Martin Reilly skinned Colm Cavanagh to set up the first one, Givney showing a deft touch to flick up the rebound from Reilly's smothered shot and poke home after five minutes.

Causing havoc

Cavan prospered in that opening quarter-hour, with Givney causing havoc on the edge of the square. Feargal Flanagan, Mossy Corr and Cian Mackey all followed up with points of their own and Terry Hyland's side led by 1-3 to 0-2 after 14 minutes. It would have been a more handsome lead but for a string of poor wides, and when they didn't put clear water between themselves and Tyrone during that spell of dominance, they were always going to struggle to stay ahead.

Worse again, they handed Tyrone a route back into matters by spilling four careless points in a row – two from sloppy mistakes at the back and two from lazy-tackle frees. With their tails up, Tyrone pressed on, and brilliant points from out by the left sideline by Colm Cavanagh and Ronan O’Neill pushed Harte’s side 0-8 to 1-3 ahead on the brink of half-time.

Scrambled goal

But before it, a twist. A highly optimistic 65-metre free by Ray Galligan dropped in a forest of arms and legs around the Tyrone square – most of them Givney's – and in nipped Conor Moynagh to scramble it over the line. Half-time was whistled up immediately and despite not having played a lick for 20 minutes, Cavan went in a point ahead.

It looked to be only a blip though, as Tyrone continued to push on after the restart. Mattie Donnelly started bossing the centre of the pitch, and when he and Richard Donnelly popped early points to put them back in front, it meant Tyrone had notched eight of the previous nine scores.

Cavan are a resilient bunch all the same. Seánie Johnston hadn't been in the game all day but popped up with a free to stop the bleeding. Galligan came up and iced a 45, wing back Niall Murray dropped a monster over the bar from the left sideline. When the excellent Dara McVeety made it four in a row for Cavan, they were 2-7 to 0-10 ahead almost out of nowhere.

This was ding-dong stuff now. Tyrone came back and inched their way to parity and beyond. Sean Cavanagh scored a brilliant point from 45 metres with his only shot of the day, Connor McAlliskey followed up from out on the right.

Tyrone started swallowing up any and all Cavan attacks and punishing them on the break. Niall Sludden, Mattie Donnelly and Darren McCurry with a 45 pushed Tyrone three clear heading into injury time.

But Givney wasn’t done. After a day of getting buffeted and bruised in and around the Tyrone square, he got a paw to one last high ball. Cian Mackey put in Ciarán Brady along the endline and the Cavan sub tossed up an alley-oop for Givney to tap home the equaliser.

It probably says something about Harte and his teams down the years that they haven’t lost any of those three games in which they gave up three goals, this one included.

Whether they can follow up here by dishing out a hiding in the replay as they did in the previous two games against Down in 2003 and 2014, we’ll have to come back in a fortnight to find out.

TYRONE: Michael O'Neill; Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Niall Sludden (0-1), Peter Harte (0-1); Colm Cavanagh (0-1), Mattie Donnelly (0-2); Cathal McShane (0-1), Mark Bradley, Richard Donnelly (0-1); Connor McAliskey (0-2), Sean Cavanagh (0-1), Ronan O'Neill (0-5, three frees).

Subs: Rory Brennan for Bradley (half-time); Conor Meyler for McShane (42 mins); Darren McCurry (0-1, 45) for R Donnelly (51 mins); Pádraig McNulty for McAlliskey (64 mins).

CAVAN: Raymond Galligan (0-1, 45); Killian Brady, Killian Clarke, Rory Dunne; Feargal Flanagan (0-1), Conor Moynagh (1-0), Niall Murray (0-1); Tomas Corr (0-1), James McEnroe; Dara McVeety (0-1), Gearoid McKiernan, Martin Reilly; David Givney (2-0), Cian Mackey (0-1), Seán Johnston (0-1, free).

Subs: Eugene Keating for Johnston (59 mins); Ciarán Brady for K Brady (64 mins); Pádraig Faulkner for Clarke (66 mins); Jack Brady for Moynagh (68 mins); Gerard Smith for McEnroe (71 mins).

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times