Cavan still have the belly for the fight insists Mickey Graham

Kevin Óg Carney

Allianz Football League Division Three relegation play-off: Cavan v Wicklow (today, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm)

CAVAN boss Mickey Graham has strongly refuted the suggestion that his charges' appetite for success has been sated by dint of last year's provincial title triumph.

As the Breffni Blues finalise their preparations for their relegation play-off with Wicklow this afternoon, some Cavan fans have been wondering aloud where their county's form of late 2020 has gone to as back-to-back relegations threaten.

“Okay, we've been slow to get off the blocks this year but the lads are absolutely as hungry as ever,” Graham declared.

“I know how focussed the lads are because I've seen the way they've looked after themselves during the lockdown and the way they've been applying themselves to training and matches since we came back.

“Their application has been first class. Nobody has left the squad. Everyone has embraced the challenge that normally follows a great championship campaign but the fact is other teams have hit the ground running and we've had a fair amount of injuries and it's been difficult to get a settled fifteen together in the league this year.”

As the business part of the season approaches, Graham is more hopeful than doleful as regards his sick bay. He will give key defenders Jason McLoughlin (groin) and Gerard Smith (thigh) up to the last minute before deciding on his starting team for this afternoon's tie. However, the Blues' manager confirms that he'll definitely be without Ciarán Brady (cruciate) at the back and highly-rated midfielder James Smith (neck).

The 1997 Ulster SFC medallist accepts his charges are hot favourites to avoid the relegation trapdoor in Meath's county town but he is adamant there'll be no question of his side giving Wicklow an unintentional leg-up:

“There'll be no complacency in our camp . We know what Wicklow are going to bring to the table. We know we have to bring a greater work ethic than we've shown so far or we could find ourselves in trouble.

This afternoon's game comes about almost exactly three years since the side's last meeting when Cavan thrashed (2-16 to 1-5) Wicklow in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers in Aughrim. Cavan ought to win this afternoon. And, in truth, anything other than a convincing win is likely to set off alarm bells in Breffni territory ahead of a certain July 10th set-to in Omagh.

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