Ulster SFC; Cavan 3-16 Tyrone 1-23

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Brian Dooher has criticised the GAA’s condensed championship schedule and says player welfare is ‘sadly lacking’.

Tyrone toiled to an extra-time win over Cavan on Sunday and face Donegal in an Ulster SFC semi-final seven days later.

“There’s some wiser men than me sorting it out but the player welfare is not there,” said Tyrone manager Dooher.

“The players need a wee bit of respect in the middle of all this and that’s something that is sadly lacking at the minute.

“The players are the last thing they consider at this time.”

After masterminding Donegal’s stunning victory over back-to-back Ulster champions Derry on Saturday night, Jim McGuinness also expressed concern about the tight turnaround between championship matches.

The Donegal manager was in Cavan to learn who his opponents would be and watched on as Tyrone struggled to win 1-23 to 3-16 after almost 100 minutes of championship football.

“What they’re expecting of players, who have to get up and do a day’s work tomorrow and then go out next week and put their body on the line again, it’s crazy,” said Dooher.

“There will be some sore bodies after this but the big focus this week will be on getting bodies ready. Time will tell how much the extra time takes out of us but we will give it our best shot.”

Tyrone forwards Darren McCurry and Darragh Canavan limped off with cramp during extra time after a game which Tyrone led by eight points before Cavan fought back strongly in the final quarter of normal time.

Asked what he thought the watching McGuinness will have made of Tyrone’s inconsistent display, where they matched the good with the poor, Dooher admitted: “I’m not sure he’ll go away too worried, let’s be honest about it”.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that performance is nowhere near what we need for Donegal.

“There’s no words could do it justice, how good they were (against Derry).

“It was as good a performance as I have seen. They just basically dismantled Derry, who were two-in-a-row Ulster champions and League champions, and did it in style.

“Donegal will be big favourites by a country mile.

“But we’re still there, which was the objective coming here, and we’ll go and give a good account of ourselves. Getting bodies recovered will be the big focus.

“Time will tell how much the extra time will take out of us.”

While he was disappointed with the overall performance, Dooher was heartened by the character shown by the younger Tyrone players who fought and scrapped their way to victory.

Nine Tyrone players made their Ulster Championship debuts in Cavan, including goalscorer Liam Gray, on a Tyrone team that is in massive transition.

“They are learning and they won the game for us, that’s the long and the short of it,” Dooher said.

“They made the difference and got us over the line and we look forward to them doing it more often.”

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