JUST 19 months after missing an All-Ireland semi-final, Cavan will be in the draw for the inaugural Tailteann Cup – but Mickey Graham doesn’t expect any of his Breffni boys to leave the panel at following yesterday’s loss. in Donegal.
Having competed in National League Division Four this year, Cavan entered the Championship knowing he needed to reach a final in Ulster to avoid dropping out of the race for the Sam Maguire.
And the 2020 Ulster champions played like men on a mission from the start at St Tiernach’s Park until two late goals saw Donegal qualify for a ninth provincial decider in 11 months.
That sent Graham’s side into the Tailteann Cup, which kicks off later this month, but the Breffni boss is confident he will have a strong hand to handle for the rest of the summer.
“No, the boys we have in there are attached to the Cavan shirt. They are not there for the championship and for the big days.
“They’ve had a lot of dark days and keep coming back. There is no doubt that the players will fully adhere to it. The Boys have been resilient and they deserve serious credit over the past few years, with relegations and people writing them off.
“But when it comes to the championship they always pull a big performance out of the bag and it’s another one today.
“The message will be now. . . we will dust ourselves off. The more games we have, the more we will grow and that’s how I’d like to think players will see it.
“We have a lot of young guys in the team and we could also give them more playing time during this competition. It’s fresh in our minds now and we’ll take a few days to let the dust settle and we’ll see what is mindset about it.
Cavan looked the better side for most of the first half but went level 0-9 apiece at halftime. James Smith saw a goal chance shake off the crossbar five minutes before the break, and it was those fine margins that proved Cavan’s loss yesterday.
“James Smith puts that in the net and you go into half-time three points up and the pressure is really on Donegal then.
“And they got their purple patch at the start of the second half and then we came back to draw again. The game was definitely there for the taking, two balls high in… Donegal seized their opportunities.