Red Hands brush aside Breffni Blues rising stars

Allianz Football League Division 2 Final, Croke Park, Dublin 24/4/2016'Tyrone vs Cavan'Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh lifts the cup'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Allianz Football League Division 2 Final, Croke Park, Dublin 24/4/2016'Tyrone vs Cavan'Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh lifts the cup'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Cathal Noonan

The much-touted rising stars Cavan came and saw, but they couldn’t conquer. Instead, Tyrone are the division two league champions after a polished display at Croke Park, winning 1-17 to 0-15.

Ronan O’Neill’s 49th minute goal gave Tyrone a six point cushion and they never looked back after that - in a contest that produced an amazing twenty different scorers.

Tyrone led 0-11 to 0-8 at the break and, while Cavan closed the gap to two on the restart, that was as good as it got for them, the Breffni men having opened the scoring in the second minute via Martin Reilly.

But in the next attack Tyrone were level through wing half back Rory Brennan, Cavan centre half forward Gearoid McKiernan then converting a free before back came Tyrone with efforts from Sean Cavanagh and Ronan O’Neill.

By end of the opening quarter Tyrone were 0-5 to 0-3 in front with left half back Tiernan McCann taking a fine score, but Cavan always looked dangerous when going forward.

Midfielder Liam Buchanan narrowed the gap before a superb effort from the right wing by full forward Michael Argue left it 0-5 apiece. Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte exchanged points with Dara McVeety and keeper Raymond Galligan before a 13m free from Mark Bradley gave Tyrone an advantage that they were never to lose.

Connor McAliskey, superb throughout, got the first of his five points and, while Sean Johnston replied, efforts from O’Neill and team Captain Sean Cavanagh brought the first half scoring to an end.

Gearoid McKiernan opened the second half scoring for Cavan but Tyrone responded almost instantly with a sublime effort from distance from McAliskey.

McVeety reduced the deficit again but Cavan were dealt a blow when they lost midfielder Liam Buchanan to a black card. A long ball forward from Tiernan McCann found McAliskey who turned sharply to split the posts before the goal arrived. Mattie Donnelly exchanged passes with McAliskey before cutting the ball back brilliantly to O’Neill who sidestepped his marker before blasting to the net past keeper Galligan to leave it 1-13 to 0-10.

McKiernan took a fine score from out on the left wing in reply before centre half back Conor Moynagh joined the attack to point as well.

Cavan were enjoying a good spell and they almost got a goal in 54th minute as David Givney did well to win possession before eluding a couple of tackles, his fiercely struck shot just clearing the bar.

That left just a score between them but Tyrone didn’t panic. McAliskey and substitute Conor Meyler combined for O’Neill to fist a point as they regained control. Donnelly kicked the ball high and over before they almost got a second goal when Colm Cavanagh fisted the ball inside to McAliskey who spectacularly volleyed just over the bar.

The gap was back to half a dozen points again and it was going to take a goal for Cavan to have any chance of taking something from the game and it never looked like coming.

Sub Eugene Keating did get a point before Tyrone lost midfielder Donnelly to a second yellow card offence in the 67th minute. With the game in overtime Sean Cavanagh hit an outstanding point from under Hogan Stand and, while Cavan had the final say via corner back Jason McLoughlin, it was always Tyrone’s day.

It stretches the unbeaten run to thirteen as they annexed a second piece of 2016 silverware and now attention is on Celtic Park on May 22, a championship tie with Derry.