The captain of the last Cavan team to beat Tyrone at senior level believes the current side won’t take any inferiority complex into Sunday’s Allianz FL Division 2 final.
Fintan Cahill played in the McKenna Cup win over Tyrone in 2000, top-scoring in a 1-18 to 2-9 win.
While that win was seen as a breakthrough at the time, Cahill told the Anglo Celt this week that the Ulster landscape has since changed.
“I know at the time the McKenna Cup wasn’t holding the same status is it did in previous years, but the point was that we had broken through that barrier.
“These lads I believe won’t have that issue with Tyrone, they won’t see Tyrone on any kind of pedestal because they’ve beaten them the whole way through.”
“The reality is that all these guys have seen success, they’ve beaten the best in Ulster at their age so winning for them is not a novelty, and I think it was a novelty for us.
“We would have grown up not really expecting to beat Tyrone. When we got to the Ulster final in ’95, supporters were delighted to be there.”
Cavan made their Ulster breakthrough two years later, then shook off the Tyrone monkey 16 years ago, before slipping into the background again as Tyrone went from strength to strength under Mickey Harte.
Cahill characterised the counties’ on-field relationship as fractious: “It was never rosy to start with but there was no real venom, because they probably expected to beat us, and did, most times.
“But from 1995 on, that whole dynamic changed.
“They were calculated, aggressive, arrogant — they were everything you’d wanted to play with as opposed to against.”
“Ulster football had that, but Tyrone particularly had it.
“We went up one year — and I think there’s a video of this — we had the mother and father of all time.
“It was a league play-off. It was the worst row I have ever seen.”
But Cahill insists the current Cavan team is better than the ones he played on, including the 1997 Ulster champions. “They are far superior now. Physically, they are huge, they have speed, conditioning.
“The game has moved on.
“I actually have gone to most of the Cavan games this year and it’s a breath of fresh air to see big men playing football. Not only that, big men that really can play football.
“I mean, Gearoid McKiernan’s skill level, Killian Clarke’s skill level, and the speed in the team. It’s phenomenal and it’s fantastic to see. The future is bright.”
Tyrone beat Cavan 0-10 to 0-8 in the sides’ opening Division 2 fixture, but Cahill can see that result being reversed on Sunday.
“I would say that Cavan will win it. You have to consider the forwards. If you had (Seanie) Johnston and (Eugene) Keating in the two corners and (David) Givney full-forward, there aren’t too many teams in the country that that wouldn’t tog for.
“Hopefully, Cavan can take the game as it comes. It’s just another game, but these guys have won a lot. This is a game they can win, no doubt about it.”
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