Cavan players celebrate following the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cavan and Donegal at Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
Cavan players celebrate following the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cavan and Donegal at Athletic Grounds in Armagh. 

Cavan players were inspired by Tipp triumph


By Declan Bogue

If the stars were aligning for a Cavan win in the Ulster final, then added motivation came from Tipperary’s win in the Munster final.

One of the strange coincidences in this Coronavirus season is that if things had been normal, the team would have travelled to an Ulster final by coach. Certainly, given that they travelled separately in their cars gave them the peace to tune into matters Leeside and provide them with an extra adrenaline shot and inspiration as Tipperary landed their first title in 85 years with an unexpected win over Cork.

"I was listening to it on the radio on the way up, so I did know about it and it does give you faith," said a beaming Padraig Faulkner afterwards.

"When Cork beat Kerry, Kerry were the biggest monsters meant to put it up to Dublin, and Cork went and done it.

"It’s no good when you don’t back it up with a title but Tipperary beating them today, it does give you the incentive. If they can do it, anyone can do it."

His manager Mickey Graham was similarly tuned in.

“The boys were listening and we asked the question. Isn’t there some stat about the four teams, Dublin, Tipp, Mayo and Cavan all winning, and the last time Cavan played here in 1920 they won it, so you would wonder were the stars lined up? And I am a firm believer that they were.”

Cavan manager Mickey Graham after winning the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cavan and Donegal at Athletic Grounds in Armagh. 
Cavan manager Mickey Graham after winning the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Cavan and Donegal at Athletic Grounds in Armagh. 

Graham’s achievement must be acknowledged. His Leinster club win with Mullinalaghta in 2018 was seen as a miracle. But he and Cavan delivered another one here.

“The Mullinalaghta people are a special group and they will always be in my heart,” he said.

“But Cavan is special too. I’m from Cavan, I have so much blue blood going through my veins and to do it with a group of your own men is special.

“Growing up as a young lad, it was always about the Ulster Championship. You’d be going to matches as a kid of seven or eight and it was all about going to Ballybofey or Omagh. You’d never pass too much remarks on the league. these are special days and I’m delighted these boys got to experience it.”

Faulkner for one was in a state of shock.

"I still can't believe it, it’s like waking up from a dream. It’s what you dreamed about when you were younger - that’s all we wanted when we were younger," he says.

"It was to lift the Ulster title and I’m stuck for words. It’s strange not being in Clones, but we had a taste of this pitch last week against Down and I think the extra bit of practice might have stood to us. It’s probably smaller than Clones, which would have suited us.

"Donegal’s attacking threat; they are strong runners and they like to spread the pitch wide and I think that pitch suited us down to the ground."

Not least, the goal on 71 minutes. It was the ultimate checkmate, a score that put four into the margin with less than three minutes to rescue themselves, with an attack that had malfunctioned bar the period of Cavan's first black card.

"That was the deadener, but it never felt lost," said Faulkner.

"It never felt that we were losing it, I always felt we were in control. Our big players were standing up, there was no little thing spurning us on and it was just everyone putting in a shift.

"I felt the time Marty (Reilly) went through on goal, he was trying to put the game to bed and probably should have clipped it over and that would have put us two up. We still plugged through and got the goal, and that was the deadener for Donegal."