Cavanagh says ref will need to be on red alert

Seán Cavanagh feels referee Joe McQuillan will need all the help he can get to officiate Sunday’s Ulster quarter-final between Donegal and Tyrone.

Admitting the game will be a difficult one to handle, the 2008 footballer of the year says the Cavan man will require assistance from his linesmen in ensuring the game is diligently supervised.

“It’s going to be hard and he is going to need plenty of help from sideline officials and umpires and I have always advocated that in the GAA.

“The referees do need help. There’ll probably be a lot of off the ball stuff going on, that’s not saying that it will be always Donegal, but it will be a difficult game to referee and with the supporters so close to the pitch the atmosphere will be white hot so it’s a tricky game.

“Let’s just hope for a good game because it’s going to be a great spectacle and a shop window for the GAA.”

Cavanagh can’t recall a build-up for any other Ulster championship game being as intense as the one for this encounter in Ballybofey.

He is under no illusions about what kind of game it will be — one where making tackles will likely be more important than kicking points.

“In the league final it was the wide open spaces in Croke Park and it was free flowing football with 15 v 15 but on Sunday it’s going to be negative.

“You know you’re going into a full house and a white hot atmosphere and it’ll be tactical game and it’s a massive challenge.”

Cavanagh has heard all the talk about the game being described as a war between the neighbouring counties.

“Whenever you’re a player and you hear people chatting about things like that, we know as player it’s going to be frantic and fast-paced.

“And we’re are going to have be like that if we are going to compete because Donegal have blown teams away in the last couple of years playing like that.”

Tyrone’s new free-scoring and 45-slotting goalkeeper Niall Morgan is seen as a big weapon in the visitors’ armoury. The amount of time he and Stephen Cluxton have taken to go up the field and take placed balls has been queried but Cavanagh shrugs it off.

“Actually, God’s honest truth, Niall would always talk to me, because I am usually the one that would be standing closest to the ball and thinking whether it is Niall or myself kicking a free or something.

“So he would say to me ‘Sean, make sure you tell me real, real early and I will get up the pitch as quickly as possible’. Because I think referees do warn him and that.

“For us he is a fantastic free-taker and a massive asset to our attacking abilities. He can kick points from 60 metres, he does it every night in training. He is exactly like Stephen. He plays out the field for the club so he is used to doing a bit of running for the club.”

On the smaller Ballybofey pitch, Morgan’s radar will be larger and Cavanagh, while acknowledging the home support might be a factor as he prepares to take kicks, revealed the extent of the 21-year-old’s scoring ambitions this year.

“He is a young lad, but he has got serious talent and serious skill. The soccer guys would tell you exactly the same, he’s just a perfect goalkeeper.

“He’s a brilliant shot-stopper and he could probably play out the field as well.

“You see him in training and he has no problem kicking ball around me. He told me that he wanted to score from play at some stage during this year as well, and that’s not a joke!”


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