TYRONE ALL-IRELAND winner Sean Cavanagh believes former team-mate Tiernan McCann will be the first to admit his actions in their recent tie against Donegal were unacceptable but reckons there was an element of provocation in the controversial incident.
Tyrone’s Frank Burns and Tiernan McCann with Donegal’s Stephen McMenamin.
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McCann is set to miss Tyrone’s next two championship outings after his altercation with Donegal’s Stephen McMenamin during their Ulster semi-final loss.
Cavanagh, who brought his Tyrone senior days to a close in August 2017, soldiered alongside McCann during the end of his career and referenced the reaction of the Killyclogher man in the wake of the incident that saw him dive during their 2015 Croke Park clash with Monaghan.
The five-time All-Star winner is adamant that offences like eye-gouging must be ‘harshly clamped down’ on but feels there must have some provocation that caused McCann to react.
Joe Brolly and Colm O'Rourke have their say on that second-half Tiernan McCann flashpoint #RTEgaa pic.twitter.com/AjcHAJK2UJ
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“Tiernan’s an intelligent guy, he’s a pharmacist. He knows. I remember after the Darren Hughes incident, he was the first man to come out and say I’m sorry, I made a mistake.
“I’ve no doubt he felt the exact same after Donegal. I haven’t been speaking with him but that type of incident, it’s not the type of thing you want to see, Tiernan will be the first man to tell you that.
“There’s always two sides to these things and that’s the bit that people watching on TV don’t always see. I’m pretty sure there must have been some sort of provocation there, I don’t know the details of it.
“It doesn’t seem logical to me that he did what he did without (being provoked). He lost the head, he did something that should never be done in a sporting environment. It obviously was some sort of a reaction.
“Look, he’s got his two game ban and that’s where it’s at at the moment. There’s been a few incidents creeping in. Eye gouging and stuff like that, I think everybody recognises that it has to be harshly clamped down on.
“The sooner the GAA do that with every incident, the better for the game.”
Cavanagh spoke of the ‘huge disappointment’ in Tyrone since their loss to Donegal as their system collapsed.
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Sean Cavanagh was in Dublin today for the reveal and official launch of the Benetti Menswear GAA Ambassador campaign for 2019.
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“There’s obviously huge disappointment after the Donegal game. I think the general consensus is that the system and style they were trying to play didn’t work. I think everyone, including myself has been calling to try and use some of the forward players more effectively, but you can’t forget about what makes you good in the first place.
“That first 20 minutes, we were wide open and we made it too easy for Donegal. We had a runway down the middle of the defence. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that happen in Tyrone.
“The next few games is about trying to find that middle ground about being tight at the back and avoiding a situation like the first 20 minutes against Donegal, and bringing this new attacking style into play. It’s about knitting it together.
“I don’t think we’ll completely abandon it. I still think the likes of Mattie and Cathal McShane in there are still going to cause serious bother. They may have to kick a bit longer, or may accept that they’re going to lose a few balls up there.
“They will be much tighter in defence, but hopefully still carry that threat up front. Losing Peter Harte in that game was a big blow. They seemed to lack a number of leaders when they really needed it to try and drag them back into the game.”
Ahead of Saturday’s qualifier against Longford, Cavanagh feels Tyrone will adopt a more defensive ethos and still expects them to have a prolonged season.
“I’ve no doubt they will revert to what they know. It’s too risky now. You can’t go down to Longford on Saturday with arrogance and say ‘we’re going to score 3-15, 3-20 here’, because they just won’t do it. You have to approach every game with its own merits, and you’re not able to kick the ball in Longford the way you can kick it in Croke Park.
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“Ultimately it’s about winning. I think they’ll go through the qualifiers in the way Tyrone normally do. I know there are a few sharks in the water too. You can’t take risks.
“It’ll be about getting through the next three rounds, and maybe in the Super 8s there’ll be opportunities to try things. If they time it right in the Super 8s, they’ll be a much stronger unit.”
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