No old friends act for Killian Clarke as Cavan ready for Down challenge
THERE may be more than a flicker of recognition from hazy evenings spent in a renowned student haunt back in the day, but those fond memories will be left at the gates of Kingspan Breffni Park tomorrow night when Cavan and Down finally go toe-to-toe.
A week on from when the game was initially scheduled to take place, prior to the descent of ‘the beast from the east’, the counties will lock horns in what is their only Ulster derby of the Division Two campaign.
The versatile Killian Clarke is one of the more experienced heads on a young Breffni outfit that has blazed a trail so far in tier two of the National League, and he is well acquainted with some of tomorrow night’s opponents from his student days.
“I know a few of the lads from Jordanstown - Niall Madine, Caolan Mooney and a few of the other boys too just from floating about the Bot there on a Wednesday night,” laughs the Shercock man.
“We know them well, and Mattie would know a few of the Kilcoo boys well. They’re all good lads, but they’ll be different animals on the field on Saturday.”
Wounded animals no less following their shock loss to Clare just under a fortnight ago, as their Pairc Esler hoodoo continued with an eighth defeat from nine home League games under Eamonn Burns.
With both their wins coming on the road - against Louth and against the odds out west in Roscommon - travelling to Cavan town will hold no fear for the Mournemen, who welcome back full-forward Connaire Harrison.
But, for Clarke and his Breffni team-mates, the aim is to preserve their unbeaten home record so far this year and see exactly how they stack up against last year’s beaten provincial finalists.
He continued: “We haven’t played an Ulster team at full strength yet this year so it will be good to see where we stand compared to the top two or three in Ulster.
“I wouldn’t read into it too much about whether Down are playing well or not – on their day they’re probably as good as most teams. It might be the case that we might fall on the day we’re playing them.
“They will bring loads of aggression, and they have classy inside forwards as well who we’ll have to keep an eye on. We’ll have our homework done but, because it’s an Ulster derby, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of extra bite.”
Clarke admits the weekend lost to the snow was “a wee bit disruptive” considering Cavan’s rich vein of form, which sees them sit top of Division Two after three wins and a draw.
However, he insists the Breffnimen came away from victory down in Cork the last day delighted with the two points but disappointed with their second half showing.
“We’d a few good wins but probably we looked at it that, while we were getting results on the scoreboard, we mightn’t have been getting the results in terms of the goals we set for ourselves personally.
“We were very good against Cork in the first half but very disappointing in the second half. We struggled to get out of our own defence, we hit a lot of wides and there were goal chances we didn’t take.
“That’s something we’re going to have to correct if we’re going to be coming up against the top sides.”