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Mickey Graham has steered Cavan to two Ulster SFC Finals in a row.
Mickey Graham has steered Cavan to two Ulster SFC Finals in a row.

Mickey Graham encouraged by Cavan's recent record in Ulster

By Cian O’Connell

Cavan’s recent record in the Ulster SFC provides a source of encouragement for manager Mickey Graham ahead of Sunday’s provincial decider against Donegal at the Athletic Grounds.

Reaching two deciders in a row confirms Cavan’s potential with their past seven matches in the competition yielding five wins, one draw, and a loss to Donegal in the 2019 showpiece.

Championship consistency is being attained. “Yeah, it is something I've said from day one,” Graham remarks.

“We had come up short a couple of times in the Championship. We fell just short against Monaghan a few years, a couple of points here or there. I felt that Cavan traditionally have always been a great Championship team.”

Two Allianz Football League relegations hurt, but Graham wanted his team primed for Championship fare.

“I felt that while the League is important, Championship is where it is at,” Graham adds. “That is where you really test the barometer. I said from day one that I wanted to try to win more Ulster Championship matches, I probably put a lot of focus on that.

“While the League is important to us, it isn't the be all and end all to be honest. I'm just delighted the lads have to got to experience an Ulster Final, a lot of good players have went through the mill for Cavan, and they never got this experience. Now some of them are going to get playing a second Ulster Final in as many years.”

This is a radically different Championship, but does the fact that Cavan contested an Ulster Final against Donegal 17 months ago carry weight?

Mickey Graham is encouraged by Cavan's recent Ulster SFC form.
Mickey Graham is encouraged by Cavan's recent Ulster SFC form.

"You go around and there is no buzz,” Graham replies. “You don't see anybody. Last year the place went berserk. We were in our first Ulster Final in 18 years and the supporters had nothing to cheer about, rightly so.

“This year there’s none of that and it’s just another game. That is the way we will approach it, the experience of last year, you'd be hoping you have learned from it. You just treat this as another game and what it is an Ulster Final. It’s basically just a game of football in the middle of winter.”

Momentum has been generated so Cavan will enter the match heartened following victories over Monaghan, Antrim, and Down.

“This is our sixth week in a row and if you had said that at the start of it we'd have took your hand off,” Graham states. “We are just delighted, just taking it one week at a time.

“The one thing I'm really delighted for is the people at home who had nothing to look forward to at the weekend because of the situation we find ourselves in.

“This has given them great joy and something to look forward to. It isn't just all about the football, it is about being able to lift people's spirits.

“The way the lads have been performing in the last three games has done that.

"Sometimes we haven't really been playing well, but the determination and resilience has lifted the spirits more so than the performances maybe.”

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