Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Ulster SFC: Cavan v Tyrone – Match Preview, Pivotal Players and Previous Meetings

April 21st, 2024

Cavan v Tyrone

Kingspan Breffni, 2pm (Live on BBC 2)

Referee: David Coldrick (An Mhí)

What was perhaps lost in the pre-Championship hype around counties like Donegal and Armagh is that both Tyrone and Cavan have lifted the Anglo Celt Cup more recently than them.

Before Derry took a firm grip on the trophy in the last two seasons, the Red Hands ascended the Hogan Stand steps to lift the cup following their win over Monaghan in the 2021 decider in Croke Park.  They would return a matter of weeks later to collect the Sam Maguire for the fourth time.

Cavan may have to go back to 1952 for their last All-Ireland success, but it was in 2020 when they were last provincial champions.  Current manager Raymond Galligan played a big part in that unexpected success, from the match-winning point against Monaghan in the first round to captaining the Breffnimen to victory over Donegal in the final.

Both may not have been able to trouble the ribbon-makers since then but coming into this year’s Championship somewhat under the radar will suit both just fine.  Despite Monaghan’s relegation from Division One, they were still favoured to account for their neighbours in the preliminary round a fortnight ago.

However, a tour de force from Cavan forward Paddy Lynch put paid to those plans and even the return of talismanic goalkeeper Rory Beggan couldn’t prevent the Farneymen from becoming the first casualties of this year’s Championship.

Lynch’s haul of 1-9 will have put the Tyrone defence on notice, but they will be confident too that they have the forwards to trouble the Breffnimen.

Darragh Canavan has been in sublime form in the League and the resurgence of Darren McCurry has made them a potent attacking force.  The Red Hands will be more rested than their opponents, although their last outing a month ago was a chastening 5-18 to 0-12 defeat to Dublin in their final Division One game in Croke Park.

The four weeks in between will have given them plenty of opportunity to address the shortcomings flagged up in that defeat while Cavan will have had to spend a fair bit of the last fortnight on recovery and recuperation following the mammoth effort against Monaghan.

Recent history favours the Red Hands, having won the last five Championship meetings between the sides.  That includes a quarter-final over the then Ulster champions in 2021 en route to their own provincial success.

Cavan have to go back to the 1983 for their last Championship win against Tyrone, a year they reached the Ulster final only to lose to Donegal.

Since that success, Tyrone have had spells of dominance at Ulster and All-Ireland level and a key player in their success in the Noughties was former Footballer of the Year Stephen O’Neill.  He will be in the opposite dugout today as part of the Cavan management team, attempt to plot the downfall of his native county.


  1. Gary O’ Rourke
  2. Cian Reilly
  3. Killian Brady
  4. Brían O’Connell
  5. Padraig Faulkner
  6. Niall Carolan
  7. Conor Brady
  8. James Smith
  9. Oisin Kiernan
  10. Ciarán Brady
  11. Gerard Smith
  12. Oisin Kiernan
  13. Cian Madden
  14. Paddy Lynch
  15. Oisin Brady
  16. Fergal O’Rourke
  17. Mark Magee
  18. Luke Fortune
  19. Conor Rehill
  20. Jason McLoughlin
  21. Tristan Noack Hofmann
  22. Ryan Donohoe
  23. Killian Clarke
  24. Tiarnan Madden
  25. Cormac O’Reilly
  26. Caoimhin O’Reilly


  1. Niall Morgan
  2. Conal Devlin
  3. Padraig Hampsey
  4. Michael Mc Kernan
  5. Sean O’Donnell
  6. Matthew Donnelly
  7. Niall Devlin
  8. Brian Kennedy
  9. Aodhan Donaghy
  10. Ciaran Daly
  11. Kieran McGeary
  12. Joe Oguz
  13. Darren McCurry
  14. Darragh Canavan
  15. Ruari Canavan
  16. Lorcan Quinn
  17. Aidan Clarke
  18. Ben Cullen
  19. Conor Cush
  20. Cormac Donnelly
  21. Liam Gray
  22. Nathan McCarron
  23. Lorcan McGarrity
  24. Cathal McShane
  25. Michael O’Neill
  26. Tiernan Quinn

Pivotal Players 

Cavan – Ciaran Brady 

The autumn and winter months just passed turned out to be most enjoyable for Ciaran Brady. ‘The Holla’ captained his club Arva to Cavan, Ulster and All Ireland Junior titles. He scored four points from midfield and was named man of the match as he climbed the Hogan Stand steps to proudly lift the trophy in front of his jubilant community.  

Albeit, Brady has his fair share of silverware in the blue of Cavan too since first representing his county back in 2011, winning Ulster Minor, U21 and Senior Championships along the way. He made his senior debut in 2015, and in that time has played in all four divisions in the League, while in the Championship, he’s played for the Sam Maguire and the Tailteann Cup. 

Paddy Lynch’s scoring exploits and Padrig Faulkner’s stunning goal may have grabbed the headlines for Cavan on their last day out against Monaghan, but Brady was as hard-working and diligent as ever around the middle of the Clones pitch, driving his side forward with strong running and creating opportunities for his team mates. 

Tyrone – Niall Morgan 

Niall Morgan has spent the best part of the past decade redefining the role of the Gaelic football goalkeeper. Playing outfield for his club Edendork, the 32-year-old has proven more than adept at not just roaming out of his goalmouth, but actively joining the attack, contesting kickouts in midfield and launching field-spanning passes into the hands of his forwards. As he often does, he has shown he can put the ball between the posts from dead ball positions from considerable range.  

Despite an up and down league campaign for the Red Hands overall, Morgan was a standout performer. Leaping high to prevent a point from above his crossbar against Galway and pinging a raking, inch-perfect 60-yard pass to Darragh Canavan to hit the net against Monaghan were just some of his many personal highlights. 

His ability to make crucial saves and securely handle high ball threats in his area, then become the launchpad for the attack, has made him an integral part of the Tyrone strategy. At both ends of the pitch, he is key to Tyrone’s chances. 

Previous Three Meetings in Ulster SFC 

USFC Quarter Final
Tyrone 1-18 Cavan 0-13
O’Neills Healy Park
Referee: David Gough (Meath) 

Cavan came into this game as reigning Ulster champions while Tyrone would, a few weeks later, regain that crown.  Darren McCurry had seven points kicked by half time as the hosts led by 0-11 to 0-7 at the short whistle.  He pushed this out to ten points and a Brian Kennedy goal was enough to ease Tyrone to victory.  Gearoid McKiernan notched 0-6 on a disappointing day for the Breffni. 

Tyrone:?N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, M O’Neill, P Harte (0-01); R Donnelly (0-01), C Kilpatrick; K McGeary, N Sludden (0-02), C Meyler; D McCurry (0-10, 5f), M Donnelly, P Donaghy (0-01). Subs:?B Kennedy for R Donnelly, T McCann for McGeary, C McShane (0-01) for Donaghy, F Burns for Sludden, M Bradley for Brennan, B McDonnell for McKernan. 

Cavan:?R Galligan (0-01, f); K Clarke, P Faulkner, C Reilly; B O’Connell, K Brady, J McLoughlin; T Galligan (0-01), C Moynagh; G Smith (0-01), G McKiernan (0-06, 4f), O Kiernan; O Pierson (0-01), O Brady, M Reilly. Subs:?L Fortune for Reilly, C Smith (0-02) for Brady, C Madden (0-01) for Moynagh, C Brady for M Reilly, C Conroy for Pierson. 

USFC Semi Final replay
Tyrone 5-18 Cavan 2-17
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath) 

After the drawn game a fortnight previous, no one could have envisaged a goal fest second time around in Clones.  Two Peter Harte majors saw the Red Hands lead by 2-8 to 0-7 at half time and they held this margin until the end.  Conor McAliskey, Rory Brennan and Mark Bradley hit the net for the winners while Cian Mackey and Jack Brady scored Cavan goals to bring respectability to the final score.     

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1); A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon (0-1), R McNabb; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly (0-3); C McShane (0-2), N Sludden (0-1), P Harte (2-4); C McAliskey (1-2), S Cavanagh (0-2), R O’Neill. Subs: R Brennan (1-0) for R McNabb, D McCurry for C Cavanagh, J Munroe (0-1) for C McShane, M Bradley (1-1) for R O’Neill, P Hampsey for R McNamee, B Tierney for N Sludden.
Cavan: R Galligan (0-1); K Brady, R Dunne, J McEnroe; F Flanagan (0-1), C Moynagh (0-2), N Murray; T Corr, K Clarke (0-1); D McVeety, G McKiernan (0-7), M Reilly (0-1); D Givney (0-1), C Mackey (1-3), E Keating. Subs: J Brady (1-0) for D Givney, J McLoughlin for J McEnroe, C Brady for K Brady, P Faulkner for N Murray, M Argue for M Reilly, G Smith for D McVeety. 

USFC Semi Final
Tyrone 0-16 Cavan 3-07
Referee: David Gough (Meath) 

On a miserable wet day in Clones, first half goals from David Givney and Conor Moynagh gave the Cavan men a one point interval lead, 2-3 to 0-8.  With Mattie Donnelly, Sean Cavanagh and Niall Sludden in particular driving Tyrone on they looked to have done enough as a Darren McCurry point edged them three in front in injury time.  Credit to Cavan though as they battled to the end and got their just rewards as Cian Mackey crossed for Givney to punch to the net and claim a draw.   

Tyrone – M O’Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, N Sludden (0-1), P Harte (0-1); C Cavanagh (0-1), M Donnelly (0-2); C McShane (0-1), M Bradley, R Donnelly (0-1); C McAliskey (0-2), S Cavanagh (0-1), R O’Neill (0-5). Subs: R Brennan for M Bradley, C Meyler for C McShane, D McCurry (0-1) for R Donnelly, P McNulty for C McAliskey.
Cavan – R Galligan (0-1); K Brady, K Clarke, R Dunne; F Flanagan (0-1), C Moynagh (1-0), N Murray (0-1); T Corr (0-1), J McEnroe; D McVeety (0-1), G McKiernan, M Reilly; D Givney (2-0), C Mackey (0-1), S Johnston (0-1). Subs: E Keating for S Johnston, C Brady for K Brady, P Faulkner for K Clarke, J Brady for C Moynagh, G Smith for J McEnroe. 


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