After Peter Harte bagged two goals inside a minute of each other during the first half to effectively settle this semi-final replay, Tyrone thoughts must have already started to turn towards a deciding showdown with Donegal on July 17.
Whether Tyrone can reverse the recent trend of losing to Donegal — having been dumped out of the Ulster championship in four of the last five seasons — remains to be seen, Cavan manager Terry Hyland suggesting: “When they’re good, they’re very good, but I suppose they won’t be too happy about shipping 2-17”.
2-7 of that total came in the last 16 minutes, which annoyed Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
“We did concede goals late in the game, which we’d be concerned about, but we didn’t concede them when it mattered,” he said.
“You’re never pleased to concede 2-17. Generally, if you’re going (to concede) that, you’ll not win the game so we have to be wary of that. Donegal will be watching and saying ‘if Cavan can punch 2-17, then we have a chance’.
“It’s something for us to learn from. If we don’t, we won’t win the Ulster title.”
The sides were level five times in an unremarkable opening in front of 20,223 in St Tiernach’s Park, but Peter Harte’s brace of goals put Tyrone 2-7 to 0-5 ahead after 24 minutes. It was already game, set and match.
There could be no way back for Cavan from that, although Terry Hyland’s side had a decent penalty appeal turned down by David Coldrick in first-half stoppage time, when Conor Moynagh seemed to be tripped in the square amidst a sea of legs and bodies.
As it was, Tyrone held an unassailable 2-8 to 0-7 lead at the break and there wasn’t much point Cavan trying to defend a seven-point deficit.
They came out after the interval and threw caution to the wind which left huge gaps for Tyrone to exploit, which they did ruthlessly in a one-sided second half devoid of intensity and atmosphere. Only one yellow card in the entire game was a sign of how little heat was in this re-fixture.
With Justin McMahon and Ronan McNabb, in his first Tyrone game since last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Kerry, late — but not surprising — inclusions, Tyrone looked better balanced in a fortnight ago.
They comfortably forced Cavan into turnovers and from one such possession, Sean Cavanagh passed to Connor McAlliskey who ran around 80 metres and had the confidence to ignore two support players to drill the ball low into the net for Tyrone’s third, and most spectacular, goal after 44 minutes.
Subs Mark Bradley and Rory Brennan also found the net in the second half and one of the biggest cheers was for a rare Justin McMahon point, a clear indication that this was a day when everything was going Tyrone’s way.
Tyrone raced clear, 4-12 to 0-10 after the hour mark but Cian Mackey and Jack Brady hit the goals at the end of a disappointing day for Cavan, who came into the game with high hopes after scoring 3-7 (to Tyrone’s 0-16) in the drawn game.
Cathal McShane had a great first half for Tyrone, when the game was actually a contest.
Both sides were probing without committing too many men forward. Tyrone content to concede Cavan’s short kickouts before trying to dispossess them further up the field.
The game exploded into life with Harte’s two goals.
First, he ghosted through unmarked to drill the ball high into the roof of the net and before Cavan had time to regroup, the green flag was raised again.
Tiernan McCann, not known for his finishing, charged at Raymond Galligan and when the ball fell loose, Harte was there to tap it in from close range.
Tyrone scored an unanswered 2-3 inside 14 minutes to take control and led 2-8 to 0-5 before Gearoid McKiernan ended a 16-minute scoring drought for Cavan before half-time. But it was already a done deal, a game that Cavan won’t take much solace from heading into their qualifier against Carlow on Saturday.
Nothing can be read into Tyrone’s 5-18 tally either. Two weeks time against Donegal is the yardstick for Harte’s men.
P Harte 2-4 (1f), C McAlliskey 1-2 (1f), M Bradley 1-1, R Brennan 1-0, M Donnelly 0-3, S Cavanagh, C McShane 0-2 each, N Sludden, J Munroe 0-1 each, N Morgan 0-1 (f).
G McKiernan 0-7 (4f), C Mackey 1-3, J Brady 1-0, C Moynagh 0-2, F Flanagan, K Clarke, M Reilly, D Givney, R Galligan 0-1 (‘45’).
N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon, R McNabb; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McShane, N Sludden, PHarte; C McAliskey, S Cavanagh, R O’Neill.
R Brennan for McNabb (49), C Brady for K Brady (52), D McCurry for C Cavanagh (55), J Munroe for McShane (55), M Bradley for O’Neill (55), P Hampsey for McNamee (61), B Tierney for Sludden (67).
R Galligan; K Brady, R Dunne, J McEnroe; F Flanagan, C Moynagh, N Murray; T Corr, K Clarke; D McVeety, G McKiernan, M Reilly; D Givney, C Mackey, E Keating.
J Brady for Givney (26), J McLoughlin for McEnroe (34), P Faulkner for Murray (57), M Argue for Reilly (61), G Smith for McVeety (65).
David Coldrick (Meath).