If onlys and what ifs.
The loss of a Division 2 final will hardly haunt Cavan this next few weeks, but they will harbour the odd regret: The handful of points they gifted Tyrone and the moment 54 minutes in when David Givney’s shot grazed the wrong side of Michael O’Neill’s crossbar.
“I thought some of our score-taking was very good,” said manager Terry Hyland. “I thought some of our point-taking from distance was very good. I thought our defence in the first half… we had a lot of turnover ball and we tackled well.
“We just have to do more of that. We probably didn’t do enough of it in the middle section of the park and maybe in their half-back line and we caught on that because it allowed them to get momentum with their run-ins.”
Cavan may be an up-and-coming force in the north, but they still trail Tyrone in terms of their nous and their familiarity with the wants and needs of getting things done at this level in a bustling Croke Park.
That was most apparent in their inability to match Tyrone’s alacrity in transferring from defensive to offensive.
It is the lifeblood of elite teams in this modern era of Gaelic football and few do it better than Mickey Harte’s men.
“That’s probably been their game plan for a long number of years,” Hyland said. “They haven’t changed it for seven, eight, nine years so they’re probably more adept at doing that and their players are more used to coming into the system.”
This wasn’t an afternoon without positives for Cavan. Twelve different players claimed scores, which was very much in keeping with a league campaign symbolised by such collective effort, though they lacked a Conor McAliskey-type player who could colour the game a deeper hue than those around him.
Amidst it all was the lingering suspicion/get-out clause that this was a phoney war being fought with empty chambers.
That maybe powder was being kept dry, in Cavan’s case for the forthcoming Ulster opener against Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh.
“I don’t think so. In fairness it’s very hard to go out and do that in a game. People would have said the night Armagh played us in the league that they had held back because we were playing in the championship but ultimately it got them relegated.
“So if you hold back in these games you get beaten. Nobody wants to get beaten.”
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