GAA Football

Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan defends Ulster football: McVeety and Moynagh win appeals

Down's Niall Madine in action against Cavan's Niall Murray and Conor Bradley during last weekend's All-Ireland Qualifier clash in Enniskillen. Picture by Sportsfile

CAVAN boss Mattie McGleenan has defended Ulster football following criticism of the fracas that marred the end of the Breffni County’s Qualifier victory over Down last weekend.

Red cards were shown to Cavan captain Dara McVeety, team-mate Conor Moynagh and Down’s Anthony Doherty following the ugly row, which continued after the final whistle had been blown.

That came at the end of a tetchy affair that had already seen Down lose Connaire Harrison and Kevin McKernan to black cards and Ryan Johnston to a red.

McVeety and Moynagh last night won their appeals against the red cards as it was found that the infraction against them had not been proven.

Both have been cleared to face Tyrone, again at Brewster Park, tomorrow evening in round three of the Qualifiers.

The news comes as a massive boost to McGleenan, who before learning of the news last night, had plenty to say about the criticism that has come the way of his side over the past week. 

Replays appeared to show Cavan’s Gearoid McKiernan goading Darren O’Hagan after kicking the final score of the game before the row kicked off, prompting Sunday Game analysts Tomas O Se and Ciaran Whelan to have their say.

Whelan claimed Cavan were “the instigators” while former Kerry star O Se suggested that, in light of the retrospective suspensions handed out to Tyrone and Armagh in the aftermath of their recent Ulster U20 semi-final, Cavan could have been left further depleted for tomorrow’s crunch Qualifier clash with Tyrone.

But, in describing the game against the Mournemen as “like an old Ulster Championship match”, McGleenan said it was this competitiveness and rivalry that sets Ulster apart from any other province.

“Do you know what? I would take an Ulster Championship match any day, Down and Cavan or Tyrone and Cavan, going hard at it, hot and heavy, than watching Cork versus Kerry in a Munster final where it is a kick-about session,” said McGleenan, referring to the Kingdom’s 17-point demolition of the Rebels on Saturday night.

“They can be the aristocrats and they can talk, but they have yet to meet an Ulster team this year and I would hope that whatever Ulster teams make it through to the Super 8s, that they’re not going to lie down the way those games went last week in Munster.

“They can put us down anyway they like, it’s sorrowful that they would try and put us down, but the brilliance of Ulster teams is that we love proving people wrong.”

And the Breffnimen are preparing for another all-Ulster meeting tomorrow when they meet Tyrone at Brewster Park – and not as part of a double-header at Croke Park.

Both counties found themselves awaiting the outcome of the ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ situation, with Kildare insisting their Qualifier against Mayo was played at St Conleith’s Park and not at Croke Park.

And when the GAA eventually relented, Cavan-Tyrone was shifted to the Enniskillen venue – the scene of last Saturday’s defeat of Down.

“There was no issue for us at any point. We’re delighted to be in the competition, just tell us where to turn up and play,” said former Tyrone forward McGleenan.

“We’ll just do exactly as we did last week. Planning and preparation-wise that makes it very easy, so that’s a plus. And yes, the guys played there last week so they’ve a feel for the football field, so we’re more than happy.”

Injury forced Killian Clarke out of the win over Down but McGleenan expects the versatile Shercock man to line out tomorrow evening as Cavan look for their first League or Championship win over the Red Hands since 1983.

And the Breffni boss believes the time has come for Cavan to take out one of the big guns.

He said: “If we’re going to do something this year, then we’ve got to beat top teams. Tyrone are still a top team.

“If Cavan are going to make a statement of intent, then they’ve got to deliver a huge performance this weekend against Tyrone.

“Down were in the Ulster final last year, Down are not a bad team. Ulster is still the most competitive Championship, as this year has proven. It’s a special competition.

“Yes there’s things we can improve on, but we’ve had this week to improve on them.

I’m aware of Cavan’s record against Tyrone in recent years, but that carries no weight with me.

“It’s five years since Cavan last won two Championship matches back-to-back, so that’s a huge plus to us. Now we want to try and make it three Championship wins in-a-row.”

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