Super 8s spot 'a huge incentive' for Cavan boss Mickey Graham ahead of Tyrone qualifier showdown
CAVAN boss Mickey Graham says the lure of a Super 8 spot is “a huge incentive” for the Breffnimen, but knows they face a mammoth roadblock in the shape of Ulster rivals Tyrone this Saturday.
The Red Hands have had the Indian sign over Cavan during recent League and Championship campaigns, sending them tumbling out in the qualifiers last year and also winning the National League clash between the counties back in March.
Fate brings them together again at St Tiernach’s Park this weekend, with the winner going into a Super 8 group alongside All-Ireland champions Dublin, Connacht kingpins Roscommon and the winners of Saturday’s Cork-Laois qualifier in Tipperary.
“It’s a huge incentive,” says Graham.
“It’s something we would love to do, get into the Super 8s, because we feel the more games we get the more this team will develop.
“We’ve a lot more work to do and a lot more to learn and if we could get to the Super 8s that would help us greatly moving forward. Playing against top opposition, you find out where you’re at plus you learn very quickly like we did in Division One this year.”
Pulling Tyrone out of the hat was as tough a draw as Cavan could have asked for, and the Red Hands come in with the momentum of qualifier wins over Longford and Kildare.
Graham, though, insists it is up to him to concentrate minds on the job at hand after a week spent wondering who might be next following their Ulster final disappointment.
“We’re just glad now to have a focal point on who we’re playing because for the past week we were just trying to get the lads back on the horse after the defeat to Donegal.
“With not knowing who we were going to be playing in our next game, it was very hard to focus in on our next match. Now that we know who it is, there’s a familiarity with Tyrone and ourselves, we know each other very well at this stage.”
He added: “We haven’t beaten them in a Championship match since 1983; they always seem to have the upper hand.
“But Tyrone have been at the top of their game in the last 10 to 15 years, they’re always in the top four or five sides in the country. We’ve come up against them probably at the peak of their powers in the last number of years, so they’ve always been able to put one over on us.
“For us, it’s moreso about us getting ready and seeing how we react after the Ulster final defeat. That’s the challenge we have now.”
In Group One, meanwhile, provincial champions Donegal and Kerry will be joined by the winners of Mayo-Galway and Meath-Clare.
That all-Connacht clash, the first between these counties in the qualifiers, takes place in Limerick on Saturday evening, with Mayo aiming to build on victories over Down and Armagh.
It looks unlikely that Lee Keegan and Jason Doherty will be available for Mayo after suffering ankle injuries last weekend, with a statement yesterday saying: “We will monitor their progress closely over the coming weeks.”
Elsewhere, Meath will be hoping to bounce back from the Leinster final drubbing at the hands of the Dubs when they face a Clare side buoyed by Sunday’s round three qualifier win over Westmeath. That game takes place at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon.
ROUND FOUR QUALIFIERS
Saturday, July 6
Cavan v Tyrone (Clones, 5pm, live on Sky Sports)
Cork v Laois (Semple Stadium, 5pm)
Galway v Mayo (Gaelic Grounds, 7pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday, July 7
Meath v Clare (O’Moore Park, 2pm, live on RTE)
Kerry, Donegal, Meath/Clare, Galway/Mayo
July 13/14 (provincial champions at home): Kerry v Galway/Mayo; Donegal v Meath/Clare
July 20/21 (Croke Park): Kerry v Donegal; Galway/Mayo v Meath/Clare
August 3/4 (qualifiers at home): Galway/Mayo v Donegal; Meath/Clare v Kerry
Dublin, Roscommon, Cork/Laois, Cavan/Tyrone
July 13/14 (provincial champions at home): Dublin v Cork/Laois; Roscommon v Cavan/Tyrone
July 20/21 (Croke Park): Dublin v Roscommon; Cork/Laois v Cavan/Tyrone
August 3/4 (qualifiers at home): Cork/Laois v Roscommon; Cavan/Tyrone v Dublin