Cavan boss Graham: We can't feel sorry for ourselves over relegation to Division Four
REMNANTS of self-pity must be replaced by a will of steel by a Cavan side reeling from the shock of relegation to Division Four of the Allianz Football League.
That’s the message manager Mickey Graham has been drumming into his players as they prepare to face Tyrone in Saturday’s Ulster Championship opener.
The provincial champions defend their title beneath a dark cloud, and under pressure to find a way to repeat the heroics of 2020.
“What's done is done, there's no point in looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves, we have to park it.
“We reviewed it, have seen what worked and what didn't, and then we draw a line under it and see where we need to get to for the next challenge which is the Championship,” said Graham.
“We can't change the past and we have to look forward. We've parked it up and got a great response from the lads at training so it's all systems go.”
The Breffni boss admitted he’s not sure whether the ferocious spirit that carried his side to a first Ulster title in 23 years has suffered damage that will adversely affect its capacity to cause a shock at Healy Park.
“Only time will tell, you'd like to think that the lads showed that spirit last year and that bit of resilience that they had is still in them. We'll not know until game time arrives.
“You'd be hoping that spirit that they showed last year will be enough to get them motivated to try to put in a big performance against Tyrone.
“We'll be able to answer that question a lot better when the time comes.”
The Red Hands have their own demons to conquer, but the Cavan manager expects them to have effectively processed the fall-out from their heavy Division One loss to Kerry and got themselves back on a sound footing.
“I think it was one of those games that anything that could go wrong for Tyrone did. Kerry are very good, like Dublin they punish you for every mistake you make and that's exactly what happened.
“Before that Tyrone were really impressive in their other games, they beat a good Armagh side and they only lost to Donegal by two points and they drew with Monaghan.
“I would say they're a team learning about what way they want to play, they look very good when they're in full flow.
“Kerry punished any mistake that was made and the game was probably decided after the first 15 minutes, and Tyrone will look at rectifying that but I'm sure they'll keep on doing what they're doing as up to that game it was really working for them.
“We've met Tyrone an awful lot over the last couple of years, we know them quite well and they know us quite well too. There's going to be no surprises really when the game arrives, it'll be about the team that prepares the best and puts in the big performance.
“We have to focus on our own game and get ourselves right, it's going to be a huge challenge but one we're looking forward to as well.”
Graham has concerns over the controversial penalty rule, on trial for this year.
The awarding of a spot kick for a cynical foul committed inside the 20 metre line has raised issues of debate during the League, and Graham fears the measure could have serious repercussions in the Championship.
“There's no clarity on it at the moment, we saw a few of them awarded during the League and some that weren't awarded so I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding about what it means.
“It's a very strange one to be honest and puts the referees in a difficult spot as well.
“It's very unclear about what is a penalty and what isn't a penalty, it's up to the referee's discretion. The players themselves are unsure of it as well.
“I think it'll be a big talking point in the championship without a doubt and could swing a game either way.”