AN expected final year in the Tyrone inter-county ranks is one that Sean Cavanagh is determined to relish as their championship challenge got off to the perfect start with this double-scores win at Celtic Park.
The Moy man displayed characteristic determination with a series of storming runs through the centre. Playing at full-forward, he produced a display that proved his continuing value to the Red Hand side.
But it was the strength in depth of the side on this occasion which impressed him most.
“You could see the strength in depth that we had coming off the bench. We sprung two or three players with fresh legs like Darren McCurry and David Mulgrew who were getting into space and scoring points,” he said.
“That maybe made the game a bit easier than had been anticipated.
“The only part of the game that we’ll look back on and say that we could have pushed on a bit more was when they reduced the lead down to three points at the start of the second half,” he said.
“Derry did come back into it when we maybe should have tried to kill their challenge off. But I suppose as the spaces opened up, we had the legs to go into them and they’ll probably be disappointed at the way they played overall.
“They were in the same position as ourselves for a time last year and were only a kick of a ball from doing what Tipperary did in the All-Ireland. I think they’ll probably improve as the year goes on, but for us this was job done,” he added.
Cavanagh has, of course, been a central part of the Tyrone team throughout Mickey Harte’s managerial career, starting right back in the historic All-Ireland winning year of 2003.
Back then they had a big clash against Derry in the championship and the team captain had been firmly expecting more of the same at Celtic Park yesterday.
Donegal are next up and memories of the National League meeting between them in March are sure to provide plenty of motivation for Mickey Harte and his players ahead of the June 18 clash.
“We were definitely expecting a serious contest and it probably surprised us that we didn’t get the level of physicality that was being expected. But we know that we’re going to get it in the next game,” he added.