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'Tyrone players would probably prefer to play the game in Clones' - Cavanagh

The Red Hand host Monaghan in Omagh on Sunday.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

TYRONE LEGEND SEAN Cavanagh feels Mickey Harte’s team would prefer to take on Monaghan in Clones rather than the tighter confines of Omagh’s Healy Park this weekend.

Cavanagh retired last winter after a stellar 16-year career with the county and says Tyrone’s style of play is not particularly suited to their home venue.

They begin their bid for a third Ulster crown in-a-row on Sunday with a tricky quarter-final clash against the 2015 provincial champions at Healy Park.

The Red Hand played three league games in the venue this spring, enjoying wins over Donegal and Kerry while they lost to Dublin.

“Over the years, we haven’t performed all that well in Omagh,” Cavanagh said.

“Most of the guys don’t enjoy playing in Omagh for whatever reason that is.

“It’s a strange place, Omagh. It’s open, it’s impersonal at times. Through the league in particular, the ground is very heavy underfoot and for whatever reason we never really seem to take off in it. Tyrone players would probably prefer to play the game in Clones or Armagh.

“I think they would fare better in those places but Monaghan will probably relish that. We’ve had a few battles with them in league and championship up in Omagh and there has never been any huge margin and I don’t see any difference now.

“As a Tyrone player, we always fancied ourselves in the wider, expansive pitches against a team like Monaghan, no disrespect to them. We backed the skills and fitness of our players against most counties but bar one match in Ulster in 2013 I think we have had the edge on Monaghan.”

Ciaran Whelan, Colm Cooper and Sean Cavanagh Sean Cavanagh was at the 2018 Sunday Game launch last week alongside Ciaran Whelan and Colm Cooper Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

The three-time All-Ireland winner expects his former team-mates to have enough in the tank to defeat the Farney, who finished an impressive Division 1 campaign in third place this year.

“I don’t think there will be much in it but I expect Tyrone will have that bit more,” he said.

“But they are better now and Malachy O’Rourke has created a much stronger team in the last few years. They’ve unearthed a few players during the league. Whether they know their best team, there’s still an uncertainty there.”

Cavanagh has been impressed with Lee Brennan so far this year and believes his accuracy on frees is a major addition to the side. Tyrone have missed important placed balls in big games over the last couple of seasons, but Cavanagh says the Trillick ace is “the answer” to those problems.

“He has a bit of a hamstring injury and I’m not sure how bad it is. He will definitely score.

Lee Brennan Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s trying to find a fit for a team that has Lee and Mark Bradley who is probably a sounder choice if you’re looking for scores from play. Lee will score from all angles from frees so it will be an interesting selection if Lee is fit.

“The right-footed ones (frees) might be as straightforward. I don’t know if they’re going to persist with bringing Niall (Morgan) out for the long-range ones. When we needed consistency it (free-taking) has been an issue.

“Lee does hit them from both sides of the field when he’s playing with his club and he does that extremely proficiently. Mickey might just go with him for everything and hope he can nail more than what we’ve done in recent years.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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