GAA Football

Stephen King hopes Cavan give Cork history lesson

Niall Murray of Cavan strives to keep his balance as Meath's Graham Reilly in the Allianz Football League Division 2 Round 3 re-fixture at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan on February 18 2018. Picture by Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile.
Kevin Óg Carney

EXACTLY 30 years after going toe-to-toe with Cork in the NFL, Stephen King isn't ruling out history repeating itself come the end of this year's Division Two campaign.

Current table-toppers Cavan and second place Cork clash in round four of the league tomorrow (1pm) at Pairc Uí Chaoimh with memories flooding back to when the two football behemoths both earned promotion from the second tier three decades ago.

Back in the 1988/89 NFL season, King captained a Cavan side which finished runners-up to Cork in Division Two.

The Rebels went onto lift the NFL title that year but, this Sunday, King reckons the southern giants will have it all to do to trump the Ulstermen.

“Cavan are in a very good place right now and I wouldn't be surprised if they collected another two points given the way they've been playing and given the fact that Cork will be missing the Nemo Rangers players this weekend,” the 1997 Anglo-Celt Cup-winning captain declared.

“The fact it's a double bill on Sunday, with the hurlers playing as well, means there should be a big attendance in place which I think will only add to the pressure on the Cork footballers to deliver the goods.

“Even though Cavan are only a point ahead of them in the table I think it's a huge game for Cork because it is a home game for them and they haven't exactly been that impressive so far even though it is early days yet.”

The Killeshandra clubman has been delighted with the way his countymen have rebounded since the 21 point (0-7 to 2-22) “mauling” they received at the hands of Tyrone in this year's Dr. McKenna Cup.

King is particularly pleased for Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan that the league has gone so well to date for Cavan.

“I think the criticism Mattie got after the McKenna Cup was unfair and uncalled for.

“He used the competition to try out some new, young players and he had a few key men out injured so while the result against a strong Tyrone team was disappointing it wasn't that surprising given Cavan's line-out,” he added.

“Expectations have risen in the county (Cavan) again on the back of the impressive start the team has made to the league so far with a good draw down in Clare kicking things off and with wins over Louth and Meath under their belt, they'll go down to Cork with plenty of confidence.

“The win over Meath was really good, even allowing for how disappointing Meath were. The team were very positive and they had a good defensive plan which worked well too.

“Before the Meath game, some Cavan supporters might still have been thinking about relegation but now everyone is looking up the table, not down.”

King retired from inter-county football 20 years ago.

One of his outstanding memories is crossing swords with the Corkmen.

But who'll be suffering nightmares after this weekend?

“I remember 30 years ago when we played them, Cork were a very strong running outfit and had some very powerful athletes on their team but I don't think that same physicality is in the current team.

“That will make Cavan's job that bit easier on Sunday but it's a game that could end in a draw.”

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