FORMER Cavan boss Terry Hyland doesn’t share the fatalistic attitude of their supporters ahead of Saturday’s Fourth Round qualifier against Tyrone.
The feeling on the ground seems to be that this is, in effect, a draw from hell for the beaten Ulster finalists.
But Hyland is an optimist by nature and says that if the stars align on their favour on the day they may defy the odds and qualify for the ‘Super Eights’.
“I’m a long time involved in football management and firmly believe that if you go out and do your best there’s a chance of getting a victory.
“Anything can happen in a game of football, and the tie can swing one way or another between one thing or another. A few things will have to go Cavan’s way but if they give a performance of course they can win.
“I’m not sure that it is from hell or that Tyrone are unbeatable. The league showed that Tyrone’s form can waver up and down, and they struggled against Derry and Donegal in the championship.”
Hyland has plotted the downfall of Tyrone teams in the past – he was man in charge of the Breffni County’s u-21 team which won back-to-back Ulster finals against Tyrone right at the turn of the decade.
However, he’s also suffered his fair share of defeats against Tyrone as well.
Again he was the man at the helm when the Cavan senior team was absolutely demolished in an Ulster Championship semi-final replay in 2016, but he likes to think that they’re a more mature outfit now.
“That was in the championship, we were a young side and we panicked a bit in the second-half and stepped out of our game-plan and left ourselves too open at the back.
“Hopefully we learned from that. They only beat us by a point in the league that year, so our matches at senior intercounty level have been close on occasions.”
But the stark reality facing Cavan is that they haven’t beaten Tyrone in the championship in 36 years. Mickey Graham’s side were brought crashing back down to earth when they lost to Donegal in the Ulster final, and it’s historically been difficult for beaten provincial finalists to pick themselves back up for the fourth and final round of qualifiers. If they’re well-beaten by Tyrone, it would take some off the gloss of what has been generally a fairly positive year.
Hyland, who managed Leitrim this season, said: “We haven’t been in an Ulster final since 2001 so in that respect we’ve made progress.
“We’d be a bit disappointed to get relegated because I think playing in Division One helps breed consistency when you take on bigger teams later on in the year.
“I felt we were a bit flat in the Ulster final, maybe the occasion got to us but I think we’re better than that. Donegal to be fair had their homework done, and they’ll be looking to at least get to an All-Ireland semi-final.
He points out that Tyrone aren’t the finished article either, however, but their reversion to their tried and trusted counter-attacking system is ominous as it generally works a treat against lower-ranked opponents.
“They have tried to change their style, they’ve McShane playing up front as a target man, but Donegal countered that by playing a sweeper. They have to look at how they’re going to transition, it worked well against Kildare but didn’t work out against Donegal. They have lots of little problems as well that they have to figure out.
“I think the dynamics of the team has changed a lot since their golden generation retired.
“They’re more than the sum of their parts in a way. They don’t have the O’Neills or the Mulligans that they had before.
“They’re trying to find a forward or two that can make a difference in a big game, they’ve fellas who can score but they need one or two big players who can do it on the big day and I’m not sure they’ve got that yet.”