Sean Cavanagh admits the Tyrone players are all too aware of Mickey Harte’s promise that they will reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals — and insists they had faith in their own abilities to achieve it.
Having beaten Kildare on Saturday and Offaly in their first round backdoor game, Tyrone face Leinster opposition for the third time in the qualifiers in the form of Meath.
Following the Ulster quarter-final defeat to Donegal, Harte insisted his side would make the last eight and former footballer of the year Cavanagh has no issue with it.
“Ah, we knew...we had the belief in ourselves and we knew we had a reasonably good league and were there or thereabouts, probably in that second tier outside of the likes of the Dublins, Mayos and Donegals and what not.
“But, yeah, you know we knew we had to come through hard games like [Kildare] and it will give us the momentum we need to drive on to the next rung of the ladder. Whenever the tie was drawn out we knew it was a big banana skin and that if we could get a win it would be a big win for us.”
That said, Cavanagh is wary of how bad a Championship return Tyrone have against Meath — they’ve lost their two previous SFC encounters in 1996 and the 2007 All-Ireland quarter-final.
He’s delighted to be getting onto a big pitch like Croke Park after playing on tighter grounds in O’Connor, Dr Hyde and St Conleth’s Park.
“I suppose some people would say that we play a wee bit claustrophobic as well, ah, you have to adapt your game depending on who you’re playing.
“We’d be glad to be getting to the wide open spaces of Croke Park. Games like Kildare, the pitch was a wee bit tight and you don’t really get much of a chance to go one v one with your player.
“We’d regard some of our forwards as being very skilful and I think if they can get a space they can do damage. But you have to respect Meath because the likes of Graham Reilly, Stephen Bray, fellas like that have been around for a long time.”
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