Cavan face daunting Tyrone task after latest relegation

Defending Ulster champions plummeted into Division Four after defeat to Wicklow

Cavan were relegated into Division Four after another disappointing league campaign. Photograph:John McVitty/Inpho

Cavan were relegated into Division Four after another disappointing league campaign. Photograph:John McVitty/Inpho

 

Life hasn’t been great for Cavan and manager Mickey Graham since the rapturously received Ulster championship last year. An underwhelming league campaign, which in advance had been assumed to be merely a rite of passage out of Division Three, ended in the tailspin of a playoff defeat by Wicklow.

This completed a snakes-and-ladders plummet from Division One two years ago all the way down to the basement of Division Four. Even the politely encouraging reminder that they were also relegated before last year’s championship doesn’t exactly lift the mood.

“There’s no point in looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to park it up. We would have reviewed it, seen what worked, what didn’t and then drawn a line under it and see where we need to get to for the next challenge, which is the championship.”

Defence of Ulster opens with a daunting trip to Tyrone. Cavan defied the pressures of the knock-out format last year, restored to cope with Covid and retained for this season, to beat Donegal in the final.

This has a daunting ring even if Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher are new to intercounty management. Cavan haven’t defeated Tyrone in nearly four decades of championship.

Graham is also frustrated by the trialling of new rules. He disagrees with the new penalties for cynical fouling, a penalty kick and sin bin, as he doesn’t believe that the enforcement is sufficiently consistent. He questions the way rules are introduced without consulting those involved.

“Everyone has an opinion on how football should be played and what should be done. They are always looking to take strengths away from certain teams by getting rule changes but we have seen a lot of rule changes over the past couple of years. Have some of them been used to full effect? I would not think so.

“Some of them, the mark and stuff like that - you see players winning the mark now and they still play on so they probably find it more beneficial to try and play the game as quickly as possible rather than slowing it down.

“Maybe if the managers on all county teams should have been asked about them and their opinion taken on board and the players as well, who are the major stake-holders? There are other lads who make those decisions and not us.”

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