Colm Cavanagh remains excited by Tyrone's potential
By Cian O'Connell
Colm Cavanagh acknowledged that following an encouraging opening it turned into a case of what might have been for Tyrone at Croke Park on Sunday.
Tyrone thundered into the contest accumulating a four point lead early on, but by the time the interval rolled around Dublin held a seven point cushion.
A failure to convert opportunities during Tyrone's spell of supremacy proved costly according to the Moy midfielder. "To be honest I think the fast start was unbelievable and we shocked ourselves in a way going 0-5 to 0-1 up," Cavanagh remarked.
"We seemed to go into a panic mode, which is crazy to think because we felt we could manage the game if we went 0-5 to 0-1 up.
"But we were reckless, we kicked shots away and we made bad decisions. Had that not been the case, it could have been a very different end to the first half.
"It turned out that Dublin got a point back, got the goal and it really took the stuffing out of us and it was very hard to recover after they did that.
"Yeah, that first 20 minutes we’ll probably look back on the hardest and say why were we not a bit better to put Dublin under pressure?"
Not being sufficiently clinical initially hurt Tyrone deeply. "Yeah, that’s probably the hardest thing to take in that we took shots on from angles we shouldn’t have and we were making the wrong choice," Cavanagh reflected.
"Had it been different and we tried to play Dublin at their own game and keep the ball and made them come out on us, we could have been in such a better position.
"But that’s sport and it’s hard to get that message out whenever the crowd is rocking to keep the ball and be smart."
Cavanagh was the only Tyrone player to have previously featured in a senior decider and admitted that Dublin's greater experience was a factor.
"Yeah, it’s a fair point," Cavanagh added. "It’s a big occasion, everyone wants to do their best and impress. "Yeah, potentially a wee bit at crucial times and the game management part of it wasn’t what it should have been.
"And I know that – I’m not trying to have a go at anyone. We just know that we didn’t manage the game well at a crucial time.
"To be honest we were totally in control and Dublin were under pressure. But look, the next part after that 20 minutes, you have to give credit where credit is due. They put us to the sword and they got the scores and their game management was brilliant."
Cavanagh expects to be back on the inter-county beat with Tyrone again in 2019. "Yeah, look I toyed with this," Cavanagh states. "I laughed and joked with the boys that if we were to win something this year I could see my days out – I did consider it this year if we had’ve won.
"I’m 31 years of age now, I’m not getting any younger, a lot of these guys are making it harder and harder to come back and compete with.
"However, I don’t know whether I could go out like that. There’s serious potential in this team, we’ve developed a great bond over the last number of months. Moy won an All-Ireland this year and I came in late to the panel, and it took me a wee while to adjust and get back into the scene.
"But to see how the group dynamic evolved over the couple of months through the qualifier run was unbelievable and I think we have a really strong group there who enjoy each other’s company and will go to the well for each other. That’s important, and that can hopefully go well for us next year."