Kerry stand poised to end Cavan’s encouraging summer run

Bur former Breiffne boss Tommy Carr believes Terry Hyland’s team have made real progress

Cavan manager Terry Hyland has made solid progress with his young team this year with victories over the likes of Fermanagh, Armagh and Derry. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Cavan manager Terry Hyland has made solid progress with his young team this year with victories over the likes of Fermanagh, Armagh and Derry. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho


Something good is happening to Cavan football this summer although former manager Tommy Carr believes it is too soon to say exactly how good.

They come to Croke Park on Sunday for their first ever All-Ireland quarter-final, and on the back of five victories in the one summer for the first time since 1952, when Cavan last won the All-Ireland.

That they’re playing Kerry, the team they famously beat in the 1947 final in New York’s Polo Grounds, adds some further romance, and yet Carr’s first hope is that their excellent summer of 2013 doesn’t suddenly come crashing.

“For me the big difference with Cavan this year is their sense of team spirit, and team work, on the field,” says Carr. “Cavan probably suffered a little bit in the past of what you might call the weaker county syndrome, where they had one or two exceptional players, and tended to build things around that player.

“Obviously they have this new crop of underage players now, who have experienced a fair degree of success, at minor level, and especially at under-21 level. The likes of Martin Dunne. They have brought in a no-fear attitude . . .

Solid players
“Some of the older individuals as well, the likes of Mossy Corr and Killian Clarke and Ronan Flanagan, are all very solid players too. But . . I wouldn’t judge them until next year. Every team will get a bit of luck and the breaks, but Cavan need to build on this again next year, and establish some consistency over two or three seasons.”

Carr was in charge of Cavan from 2008-2010, a term highlighted by the occasional scalp and the more frequent defeat (including the 18-point loss to Cork in the 2010 qualifiers). He agrees those were difficult days and at least now Cavan are more consistent.

“Their manager Terry Hyland has to take great credit here as well. He’s done a very good job, and knows all those Cavan players very well. . . . Terry was a selector with me, under my time, and he’s a good fella, really knows his football, and has been neck deep in Cavan football for the last 10 years. He was put in there for four years and that’s crucial as well. If counties feel they have the right guy it’s no good giving him a year or two. He has to be given time and thankfully Terry has, and hopefully Cavan won’t change their mind on that.”

Carr always believed Cavan had the potential to break into the top-eight or 12 teams. “You have to remember as well that Gearóid McKiernan, one of their best players, is sidelined this summer with injury, and hopefully will be back next year. So there were always good footballers there.

The problem now is that they face Kerry, the only team to reach the quarter-final every year since it was introduced in 2001 (and losing only twice, to Down in 2010, and last year to Donegal)

“It’s certainly a big step up in terms of challenge. Kerry are still an awesome team. Do Cavan have a chance of winning the game? No, I don’t think so. But it they are prepared to fight, and any team that’s prepared to fight will make it a contest.

Marks progress
“But again, they’re into the last eight, and that marks progress, but what is more important for Cavan is that they come away from this with a level of respectability, that they get to within five or six points of Kerry, and not end up 10 or 15 points away.

“Because again it’s about building on this season. They’re still in Division Three, and the first thing they’ll want to follow up on next year is promotion to Division Two. We don’t really know yet are they one-season wonders. We will know that next year, but I think they are definitely going in the right direction.”