1. Break down Cavan’s
Cavan play with players behind the ball and then break at pace. They only really play with two out-and-out attackers, right corner forward Jack Brady and the impressive Niall McDermott who wears number 14. They will probably be marked by Gary Sweeney and Colin Forde respectively.
The other Cavan corner forward plays out the field, their wing-forwards drop deep and the centre-forward roves too. It is a template that has been almost perfected by Tyrone at senior level over the past decade and is very difficult to counteract. Donegal adopted the same tactics last weekend in their league win over Laois. It is not pretty to watch, but it can be very effective at nullifying the opposition attack.
The Galway attackers will have to move the ball at pace and avoid getting caught in the tackle. If the ball is brought into traffic, the sheer weight of opposition numbers invariably leads to a turnover.
If Cavan turn the ball over, they swarm up the field and players such as wing-back Michael Brady can find himself in scoring positions.
Galway will have to be patient and probe for openings rather than just belting in ball to Danny Cummins, Patrick Sweeney and Eric Monaghan, who will be faced with defending players. The width and space of Croke Park will have to be utilised and the quality of passing will have to be good.
The style of game Cavan play is very high tempo and demanding. Teams can run out of steam in the last quarter, as Dublin did last Sunday against Cork. Games are usually decided in the last 10 minutes and that is when Galway will have to be at their most clinical.
2. Get a better return from the full-forward line
Galway enjoyed loads of possession in the semi-final against Cork due to the excellence of Tomás Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin and yet it took a scintillating goal by wing-forward Michael Boyle to swing the game Galway’s way.
Galway’s full-forward line of Cummins, Sweeney and Monaghan will have to be clinical in front of goal in Croke Park on Sunday. They have to take the right option when in possession. That means being ruthless in their shooting - or laying the ball off if that is the better choice. As a unit they need to produce more than they did in Ennis.
All three scored against Cork and made contributions, but all three were substituted. If Galway are to beat Cavan, they need to work harder and create more scoring opportunities. And take them.
3. Dominate the middle third
Midfielders Tomás Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin were splendid against Cork and took most of the plaudits. However they face a very fine and strong midfielder in Cavan captain Gearoid McKiernan on Sunday. He is Cavan’s talisman.
Expect the ball to be broken by Cavan in the hope their half-forwards and half-backs will win most of the carpet ball.
If Galway are to win, they need to make sure Johnny Duane, Tomás Fahy, Conor Doherty, Michael Boyle, Joss Moore and Mark Hehir forage around the middle and wings for broken ball. Possession is crucial and Cavan play a fast running game when in possession that is difficult to stop. The easiest thing to do is not to let them have the ball in the first place. If Galway can replicate their success from the semi-final and Connacht final around the midfield area and in the aerial stakes from kick-outs, they will taken a massive step in cheering Colin Forde up the steps of the Hogan Stand.