SEAN Cavanagh and Tyrone entered the lion’s den of Sean MacCumhaill Park on Saturday night and not for the first time have been left pondering the ‘what ifs?’
High-profile defeats in Ulster Championship clashes in 2013 and 2015 at Ballybofey stand out from a Tyrone perspective, but the Red Hands are hardly alone in their troubles.
Donegal haven’t lost a league or championship match there since the summer of 2010 and Tyrone’s five-time All-Star admits there’s something about Ballybofey.
He said, “It’s hard to put your finger on it, the preparation was done and we had a good second-half performance against Cavan. There’s something about this place.
“Every time it seems to be raining and windy, it just seems difficult to get points out of it. There is that parochial element that Donegal seem to thrive on. You have to hold your hands up, they were just a much superior outfit and that’s given us something to think about because we thought we were further on than what we showed tonight.”
He added, “It’s hard to put your finger on why. We’re used to training in Garvaghey in the wind and rain but guys were just making uncharacteristic errors. We were slipping and sliding and the handling wasn’t good.”
Tyrone have never had it easy against Donegal since the Jim McGuinness era but this was still surprisingly one-sided. Cavanagh sounded a note of sympathy for Tyrone’s travelling contingent.
“It just felt on the field that we couldn’t get up to the pace of the game. It’s head-scratching stuff because we train very hard every night and we had a spring in our step over the past couple of years.
“To come like a place like this and let ourselves down… you do feel sorry for the supporters because they came here on the back of high hopes. We hadn’t lost in the league in a long time and to not give a good account was very disappointing and demoralising.”
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