Ulster SFC: Tyrone need new tactics - Sean Cavanagh

Conor McAliskey was Tyrone's top-scorer with six points
Conor McAliskey was Tyrone's top-scorer with six points

Former Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh believes the team needs to adopt a new style of play following their Ulster quarter-final defeat by Monaghan.

The Red Hand's Ulster title defence ended at the first hurdle and they will now enter the qualifier draw next week.

Cavanagh says Mickey Harte must change his approach to suit his best players.

"I want those players to do what I know they're capable of on the biggest stage and to do that we may need a change in game plan," he told RTEexternal-link.

"I do believe that, by bringing in [forwards coach] Stephen O'Neill, Mickey acknowledged himself that there was a need there for some change, unfortunately it just didn't come to fruition on Sunday-past.

"I'm a Tyrone supporter and I'm hoping we're going to see it as the summer progresses."

Cavanagh is concerned his native county has not adapted to the change in tactics pioneered by Dublin, who last year beat Tyrone in what was the former All-Ireland winner's final game of his 16-year inter-county career.

The Moy clubman felt Harte should have anticipated that Monaghan would attempt a similar style of play in Omagh.

"I think Tyrone are going to have to expect that teams are going to stop the running game because that's what has probably got Tyrone through the last number of years to the latter stages of the championship," added Cavanagh.

"The likes of Tiarnan McCann, Niall Sludden, Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte are immense when they get that cut and thrust running game going but Malachy O'Rourke and guys like that are going to get men that are going to stop that.

"So it's having that other dimension to the game of being able to play those diagonal balls and have ball winners inside that are really going to do damage and it may be something that Mickey is going to have to look at.

"Maybe moving Mattie Donnelly or Peter Harte inside to create another threat and to have players who can win really good quality ball and allow the likes of Lee Brennan to loop around because I think everyone knows that when he gets the ball he will score but on Sunday he just didn't have enough chances to touch that 'size five' and that's going to have to be addressed."

'Colm would have liked to continue'

A major talking point after Sunday's two-point defeat was the absence of so many of Tyrone's key players when the full-time whistle rang out across Healy Park.

Wing-back Peter Harte had just been sent off, Mark Bradley was injured in the first half while Ronan O'Neill, Cathal McCarron, Brennan and McCann had all been substituted.

Sean and Colm Cavanagh won the All Ireland Intermediate trophy with their club Moy in February
Sean and Colm Cavanagh won the All Ireland Intermediate trophy with their club Moy in February

Colm Cavanagh was also replaced at half-time after there had been doubts as to whether the All-Star midfielder would even start the game because of a quad muscle injury.

But Sean Cavanagh says his younger brother could have played on after the break - and his absence might have been a significant factor in the team's second-half performance.

"I think he would have liked to have stayed on," said the three-time All-Ireland winner.

"Obviously Mickey thought a change was what was needed and maybe Declan McClure was going to give a more attacking threat to the game.

"I've seen Colm play more than anyone and I know that he is capable himself of playing a very attacking game, he does it for our own club here in Moy very well and was the leading player for us last year in our championship run.

"So I felt, in a game in which leaders were going to decide the game, and ultimately it was Monaghan's leaders who stood up in that second half, Colm [being substituted] was a huge blow to the team."

Super 8 hopes still alive

Tyrone's early exit from the provincial championship means they must now negotiate four rounds of qualifying matches before they can hope to contest the new Super 8s series this summer.

The re-worked All-Ireland quarter-final group stage will feature the four provincial champions and the four teams that emerge from the final round of the qualifiers.

Joining Harte's men in the first round will be the likes of Armagh, Cavan and last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists, Mayo but Cavanagh believes his former team-mates can still reach Croke Park this year.

The draw for the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers will take place on Monday, 28 May with all 16 teams taking part in a straight draw with no restrictions.

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