GAA Expert & Columnist
Peter Canavan column: Best Donegal performance in years
Last Updated: 10/06/19 8:38pm
Sky Sports GAA analyst Peter Canavan reviews the weekend's Gaelic football action.
The first 35 minutes on Saturday was as strong a performance as I've seen from a Donegal team for a number of years. They were confident, they were hungry, they were aggressive. They followed a very definite game plan that worked a treat for them. They were clinical up front.
The other side of the coin was the opposition. Tyrone at times were operating with one sweeper, and the rest were going man for man. They struggled. Donegal were breaking with pace. There were overlaps created on a number of occasions, and Tyrone were at sea.
If anything, they could have been more behind at half-time.
Donegal will take great confidence in the manner of their victory. Very few neutrals were predicting a Donegal win, and they did it in style.
I think they are now in the All-Ireland conversation. While the performance against Fermanagh was calm and measured, this was exhilarating.
Paddy McBrearty is getting back close to his old form. Michael Murphy was so dominant in the middle of the park. Jamie Brennan was finishing supremely. Both he and McBrearty are now a formidable pairing up front. Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Ryan McHugh are breaking from the half-back line at pace
Without a doubt I think you've got to place them in the top three or four in the country.
Can Tyrone bounce back?
Tyrone were off-colour, but they are a much better team than we witnessed at the weekend. I'd expect to see them bounce back.
The Red Hands were very disappointed last year when Monaghan put them out of the Ulster Championship. This year, it's Tír Chonaill who beat them, but it took a very good Donegal performance to do that.
I think Tyrone are in a position where they're well able to regroup. Going to Longford, they'll be expected to win. It's not one of the easier draws they could have asked for. Like going to Meath last year, that's a tough assignment. But you'd still expect them to come through it and reach the Super 8s.
Cavan march on
The Breffni County are in a brilliant position going into the Ulster final. Donegal's performance will leave them as hot favourites.
Cavan, in every game they've played, have grown in confidence and stature. To kick 23 points on Sunday was some scoring. All their key players came up trumps. Conor Moynagh, Dara McVeety and Gearoid McKiernan in particular were exceptional.
As with previous games, Mickey Graham has been holding Cian Mackey on the bench and he's had a huge impact. From a tactical point of view, realising that Brendan Donaghy was unavailable through suspension, he put Gearoid McKiernan at the edge of the square. Armagh were forced then to play Charlie Vernon there, and McKiernan had a great game.
Mickey Graham can feel happy with his performance the way it panned out. The response he's getting from his players is something else, and they'll go into an Ulster final in a great frame of mind.
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage continues on Saturday, June 15 as Wexford host Kilkenny in a must-win Leinster Hurling Championship tie.