Cavan will need a slice of luck to end Ulster title drought
Donegal are less reliant on Michael Murphy and will be confident of retaining championship
Conor Moynagh, has availed of the license Mickey Graham, has given him to burst forward. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Donegal have Patrick McBrearty returned to full fitness and eager to make up on a lost year. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
This is Donegal’s eighth Ulster final appearances in nine years. The Cavan advice would be to take nothing for granted. Cavan’s historical supremacy came to such an abrupt end that their participation here adds a novel and refreshing dimension to the day. It’s simply a huge occasion for Cavan, with just one Ulster championship title since 1969. If this is the year when the excellent work put in at under-21 level is to bear fruition, then besting the most consistent Ulster side – and current champions – would be the perfect way to make that statement.
Donegal were persuasive against Tyrone in the semi-final: goalkeeper Shaun Patton drew rave reviews for his restarts and general play, Tyrone’s inside forward line was neutralised and the imagination and pace with which Donegal attacked produced a series of eye-catching scores. Michael Murphy remains the totemic figure on this team but interestingly, the approach that if you stop Murphy you stop Donegal may no longer be enough. Less possession runs through him and that has made Murphy’s attacking game harder to read and because he commands such respect, he can create vital pockets of space for lightning ball-carriers such as Ryan McHugh, Jamie Brennan and Eoghan Bán Gallagher to cause havoc.
But Cavan have few obvious weak links. They’ve been tight at the back and have a capable counter-attacking game of their own, with Niall Murray and Conor Moynagh availing of the license Mickey Graham has given them to burst forward. It’s likely Donegal will man-mark Dara McVeety and force Cavan to play through them as they did Tyrone. Cavan will take heart from their scoring rate against Armagh and the fact that Donegal, for all their attacking fluidity, have yet to post a frightening score. Cian Mackey said during the week that his team will probably need a slice of luck in order to prevail: if Cavan can introduce him to a one- or two-point contest with 15 minutes go to, then the roof will be blown off Clones. But Donegal have Patrick McBrearty returned to full fitness and eager to make up on a lost year and All-Ireland winners such as Frank McGlynn and Leo McLoone to light the way to a fifth Anglo-Celt of the decade.
Last Meeting: May 13th, 2018, preliminary round Ulster SFC – Donegal 1-23 Cavan 0-15
Just the Ticket (match is sold out): Covered Stand €35, Open Stand €30, Senior €23/€20, Terrace €20, Juvenile €5.
Odds: Donegal 1/3, Cavan 10/3, Draw 8/1