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Cavanagh: McGeeney influence paying off

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Cavanagh: McGeeney influence paying off thumbnailSean Cavanagh believes Kieran McGeeney's influence starting to pay dividends for Armagh

SEAN Cavanagh can see the influence of Kieran McGeeney starting to pay dividends for Armagh.

The Orchard manager has his team playing the sort of football the county became famous for during his glory days as a player.

The long diagonal ball, ferocious tackling and dominant ball-winning are key components of the strategy of a resurgent Armagh side that will bid to take down the Red Hand at Croke Park on Saturday.

"They have that bit of focus and that bit of drive that obviously those guys from that successful team are driving the backbone of this new Armagh team," said the Tyrone skipper.

"And having played against those guys, you do realise how driven they were, and how strong as individuals they were. And you can see their stamp on this new team.

"You can see their eagerness to win their own ball, their long diagonal kicking. They're kicking the ball much more out of defence.

"The trademark of that '02 to '05 team in particular are starting to show again, and probably the way football has evolved, it's starting to work again, in that teams are now trying to play a little bit more expansive.

"And Armagh have been brave, in that they played it in a couple of games in the league, and things went against them.

"They have stuck to it, and it's starting to come to fruition now, and you've got to give them credit.

"They have got some really good ball-winners inside and they have some really good kickers in the middle of the park, and they have tough, tough defenders.

"They're playing with that edge, they're playing with that toughness and it does remind me of some of those big personalities that they had through those teams that were very successful for them."

McGeeney has surrounded himself with a management team made up of team-mates from the team he played on a decade ago, with Paul McGrane, Paddy McKeever and John Toal helping him plot another big win.

"The younger members of our team probably don't remember all those battles, and it's a bit strange to look on at the Armagh games at the moment, and you're watching John Toal, McGeeney, McKeever and McGrane, guys like that standing on the sideline.

"And those are the guys that I had the direct battles with in the early 2000s and mid 2000s.

"So it's a bit strange for me to be still on the right side of the white line and they're on the other side.

"It's a little big nostalgic for me. The younger members of the team have no issues or rivalries with Armagh whatsoever, but for me there is," he said.

"I know there was all the chat about the big rivalry through the noughties, but when it came to it, we had a ridiculous amount of respect for each other.

"I think deep down, Armagh and Tyrone have always respected one another, and will continue to do that.

"And no matter what happens on Saturday, that respect will remain."

The Armagh management team is made up of players who were direct opponents of Cavanagh in his early playing years with Tyrone, with manager Kieran McGeenely flanked by Paul McGrane, Paddy McKeever and John Toal.

Cavanagh will once again face up to his brother-in-law Charlie Vernon this weekend, an intriguing sub-plot to a massive game.

"At this stage we have crossed paths a few times, and this might be the last time I get to play against Armagh.

"There'll be nothing said on the pitch. At this stage, we obviously both know each other very well, we'll probably not be chatting to each other this week. There probably be a few quiet days next week, no matter what happens.

"But we're both professional people, and we know that whatever happens on the field on Saturday will stay on the field.

"Both of us would like to think that we're not the dirtiest of players, so I don't think we'll be leaving too much on each other. We have the utmost respect to for one another."

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