Cavan under-21s confident of Ulster final success
Killian Clarke: “This team we have at the minute has no Ulster titles so far, no recognition of anything, so that’s the way we’d be looking at it.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
If any further evidence was required of Cavan’s irrepressible start to 2014 then it comes in the voice of Killian Clarke. Fresh on the heels of their sensational promotional run in Division Three of the Allianz Football League – the only team across all four divisions to win all seven games – comes this evening’s Ulster under-21 football final against Donegal, and the chance to win a fourth title in succession.
For Clarke it’s also the chance to pick up where he left off last year, as he also played in the 2013 final win over Donegal: the Cavan full back has also helped his county boast the most impressive defensive record in the league, conceding just 1-67 over their seven games, under manager Terry Hyland.
No wonder Clarke sounds quietly confident, although he admits this under-21 team has won nothing yet, and the ultimate goal of an All-Ireland is still to be attained.
“It’s a big ambition,” he says. “We were beaten along the way by Roscommon and by Cork too. It’s something we need to reach, that milestone, so it’s obviously an ambition for ourselves. It’s the way forward for us.
“But every year is different. You have a different squad, you have a different mindset, different people in, different players. And this team we have at the minute has no Ulster titles so far, no recognition of anything, so that’s the way we’d be looking at it. At the end of the day we’re going for one this year, this team, this actual squad.”
That may be true, but Cavan did get the better of Donegal last year, and beat Tyrone in both 2012 and 2011: the continued progress of the seniors reflecting their growing belief, Clarke one of the current under-21s to shine in last summer’s senior campaign, which ended with an All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kerry.
Cavan only conceded 0-4 in the Ulster under-21 semi-final, against Monaghan, but now face a Donegal team who did beat them in the 2010 final, and who battered Armagh by five points in their semi-final. It will naturally come down to who concedes the least.