Cavanagh braced for Croker 'war of attrition'

Tyrone ace Sean Cavanagh believes his side still have a lot of improvements to make if they are to capture their fourth All-Ireland SFC title since 2003.

Tyrone ace Sean Cavanagh believes his side still have a lot of improvements to make if they are to capture their fourth All-Ireland SFC title since 2003.

The summer has already seen Mickey Harte's charges claim wins over Antrim, Down and Monaghan en route to their 13th Ulster Championship success.

Cavanagh says Tyrone need to kick on from the provincial title win if they want to put themselves in contention for All-Ireland glory.

"We probably haven't learned an awful lot (from the Ulster final)," explained the midfielder-cum-forward.

"I think Monaghan got a bit carried away with themselves and there was an awful lot of pressure on them up north and around Monaghan, like there was in the Antrim camp in 2009 - all of the pressure was on them.

"There were flags and bunting (up), there was an awful lot of expectation on them. They thought it was their day in the sun.

"I think that maybe affected their players and certainly if you ask any of the Monaghan boys, they will say that they didn't bring their 'A' game to Clones.

"We can't really read too much into that (win), as we weren't really tested. We weren't put to the pin of our collar, and that's a dangerous place to be in.

"We are now in an All-Ireland quarter-final, and we haven't been pushed to the stage where we are almost ready to be knocked out, like what we did in 2004, 2005 and 2008; where we had been taken to replays and we had found out an awful lot about ourselves."

Saturday will see Tyrone facing Dublin in SFC action for the first time since the Red Hands' 3-14 to 1-8 quarter-final demolition of the Dubs.

Indeed, Harte's men will be bidding for their third quarter-final win over the capital side in six years, after victories over the then Leinster champions in both 2005 and 2008.

Dublin have come into this quarter-final encounter somewhat under the radar, and Cavanagh is fully aware that this will suit Pat Gilroy's ever-improving side.

"It's a dangerous place where we are at the minute, Dublin have more of a settled team than we do, and they are massively dangerous opposition for us," he said.

"It's almost like where we were in 2008 (for Dublin). They have come through when very little was expected of them, and they have gone under the radar.

"The players themselves have got those three games (via the qualifiers) to get themselves back, following the loss to Meath (in the Leinster semi-final).

"They are sitting in a very good position in that people are saying there is no pressure on them."

And Cavanagh has first hand experience of the new-look Dublin's potential. Tyrone succumbed to Saturday's opponents by 2-14 to 1-11 last April in a National League clash in Omagh, a defeat which condemned the Red Hands to Division 2 football next year.

"The (Dublin) players themselves know that they are well capable of a strong performance," added the four-time All-Star.

"They came up to Healy Park and beat us out the gate, with us fighting for our lives.

"They will have that confidence within themselves of taking us, and we are going to have to respond to it. It's certainly going to make for an interesting war of attrition on Saturday."

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