Michael Lyng savouring another crack at Ulster club football glory
CAVAN Gaels captain Micheál Lyng is acutely aware that there may not be too many more chances for him to play in the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship.
The talented forward, now 32-years-old, has 10 Cavan Senior Football Championship medals, but has never played on a Gaels team that has managed to win back-to-back games in the Ulster Senior Club Championship.
Before their quarter-final rout of Antrim champions Lamh Dhearg this year, the last time the club welcomed a victory in the competition was back in 2008, when they beat St Gall’s.
Lyng was a member of that team, as was Seanie Johnston. The latter, together with former Cavan star Martin Dunne, has been in brilliant form this season in a potent forward line that has laid waste to all before it so far in Cavan and Ulster.
“The two boys are rejuvenated and Seanie will probably get Cavan player of the year. His scores from play have been outrageous,” declared Lyng.
“The last day I think the two boys got maybe, five points each from play. In an Ulster club game – that is excellent.
“And we only had two frees and they scored both of them.
“It’s class to be 32 and in an Ulster club semi-final because I remember we got to a couple back when I was 20, 21 and you thought it would come year in, year out.
“But in the last couple of years, since 2011, we’ve only been in it twice since then, so especially when you’re older, you’re thinking – ‘right, this could be our last chance’”.
In years gone by, Cavan Gaels were running into the likes of Crossmaglen, Ballinderry, Slaughtneil and a vintage St Gall’s team in Ulster semi-finals.
From a neutral’s point of view, Derrygonnelly may look like a somewhat less demanding route to the decider. Not that Lyng is considering the tie as anything other than a huge challenge.
“It’ll probably be the biggest game I’ll play in. Seanie spoke about it at training on Sunday morning. It’s probably the biggest game he’ll play in.
“We never got to an Ulster final with Cavan. It’s good that we are still involved and it didn’t happen two years down the line when we were gone, or however many years down the line it might be”.
In Derrygonnelly, the Gaels are coming up against a side who will be contesting their first ever semi-final in this competition, with the three-in-a-row Fermanagh champs having broken their duck against Armagh Harps.
Lyng is wary of a team who themselves may be primed for a provincial breakthrough.
“All teams, apart from Slaughtneil, are in uncharted territory,” he said.
“Derrygonnelly are very good. They have three championships in-a-row, so I would say they set out their stall this year to make an impact in Ulster.
“I would say once they won their couple of county titles, now they are really mad to push on – no more than ourselves.
“And we’ve looked at their players - we only do a small bit of analysis - but they’ve an awful lot of quality players as well – all county material.
“We’ll not take them lightly now, they’ve big men, strong men”.
The Cavan Gaels forwards may be making headlines at present, with Lyng, Johnston and Dunne grabbing 1-13 between them against Lamh Dhearg, but Lyng insists that their rearguard has been just as impressive this season.
“Our defence is as good as it’s ever been,” said Lyng.
“We had teams there, when we won five or six championships, in a good few years - this defence would stick it to the best of them, if it isn’t even better.
“Our full back, Luke Fortune is only 18 or 19 – if he was my age, he’d have every championship that I have and we might have done better in Ulster with a player of his quality. He’s class, he was our best player last year”.
In addition, Lyng spoke about the contribution of new goalkeeper Ciaran Flynn, and his ability to find their two influential midfielders – Paul Graham and Robert Maloney-Derham.
“He has been very good now - that’s nothing against our old keeper - but he’s just got a bit of a longer range,” said Lyng.
“He has brought them [Graham and Maloney-Derham] into it something serious.
“They are giving us a good platform because if you’re not winning midfield or you’re not getting the ball out – it doesn’t matter how good the forwards are or anything – you’re going to be under pressure”.