Tyrone booked their place in the Ulster Football Championship final with a comfortable 3-19 to 0-07 replay win over Cavan at St Tiernach’s Park this evening. Peter Canavan was back to his brilliant best as the battle for the Anglo-Celt Cup now takes leave of its spiritual home to head for Dublin via Casement Park.
Tyrone's challenge for the Ulster title will reach its climax at Croke Park in a fortnight, when they face the winners of Sunday's Belfast clash of Armagh and Derry. This time the Red Hand men made no mistake, and with Canavan in this sort of form, who knows how far they may go in this season's Championship.
It was just like old times as the 34-year-old former All Star produced a superb display, scoring 1-07 and creating two goals. Yet it wasn't until the second half that they really turned on the style.
While all three goals were scored before the break, Tyrone had laboured, but cut loose after the break with devastating effect, completing an impressive tally of 22 scores, and shooting just one wide in the entire game.
Tyrone made all the early running, taking an early lead through Canavan, who also won the penalty which Stephen O'Neill drilled home in the fourth minute. Canavan was sent clear by Brian Dooher, and as he cut in on goal, he was hauled down by Darren Rabbitt and goalkeeper James Reilly, who was sent the wrong way by O'Neill's crisply struck spot kick.
The Breffni defence was breached again in the 12th minute when Tyrone struck for a second goal. There was no hint of danger as the Red Hands dallied in defence, but broke with lightning speed, the ball travelling swiftly through the hands of Philip Jordan, O'Neill and Brian McGuigan before being blasted low to the net by Canavan from eight yards.
Cavan's shooting was simply atrocious, the normally reliable Jason O'Reilly and Larry Reilly the chief culprits, before Mark McKeever finally found the target from a 30 metre free.
The Red Hands had two goals in the bag, but it was a cushion which somewhat masked the ineffectiveness of their attacking efforts. Cavan may have been wasteful, but they had created many more scoring chances than their opponents, who were laboured in front of goal.
Except of course, when Canavan got the ball, and it was his delightful pass that sent defender Jordan through for a third goal. Peter Reilly had been performing heroics at the heart of the Cavan defence, but he was helpless to shore up the yawning gaps that were frequently appearing.
Yet it wasn't until the 35th minute that Tyrone scored their first point from play, midfielder Conor Gormley thumping over a long range effort to ease Tyrone into a 3-04 to 0-04 interval lead.
Referee Paddy Russell had already flashed his yellow card six times in an untidy, sometimes fractious opening half, and full back Darren Rabbitt became the fourth Cavan player to be booked in the opening minute of the second.
Tyrone were on fire in a blazing start to the second half, suddenly finding the scoring touch to fire over five points from play in as many minutes, the pick of them two sublime O'Neill efforts, kicked from distance from either wing.
Canavan was also up to his old tricks again, darting in from the end line to fist between the posts, and when he brought his tally to 1-05 from a 45, Cavan were dead and buried, 15 points adrift with almost half an hour still to play.
And it got worse for the Breffni men, for O'Neill was on his game, swinging over points from all angles. Jason O'Reilly broke a sequence of eight Tyrone points, but the Tyrone defence, with Chris Lawn, Ryan McMenamin and Gavin Devlin now dominant, stood firm.
Dooher's link play was one of the key reasons for Tyrone's blossoming, while Enda McGinley's work-rate and McGuigan's invention carved the openings for the rampant strike duo of Canavan and O'Neill.
Tyrone: J Devine, R McMenamin, C Lawn, S Sweeney, D Harte, G Devlin, P Jordan (1-01), C Gormley (0-02), S Cavanagh (0-01), B Dooher, B McGuigan, M Penrose (0-01), P Canavan (1-07, 3 frees, 1 45), S O'Neill (1-05, 1 free), E McGinley.
Subs: M McGee for McMenamin (50 mins), J McMahon for Lawn (60 mins), E Mulligan (0-01) for Dooher (63 mins), E Bradley for Sweeney (69 mins), C McCullagh for Canavan (69 mins).
Cavan: J Reilly, M Hannon, D Rabbitt, K Fannin, A Forde, Peter Reilly, Pauric Reilly, N Walsh, P McKenna, M Cahill, M McKeever (0-02, 2 frees), M Lyng (0-01, 45), J O'Reilly (0-03), D McCabe, L Reilly.
Subs: J Jordan for Fannin (14 mins), F O'Reilly (0-01, free) for McCabe (h-t), Paddy Brady for Lyng (56 mins).
Referee: P Russell (Tipperary)