GAA Football

Cavan defender Niall Murray harbours dreams of facing 'Gooch' Cooper

Cavan's Niall Murray, right, would love to be playing Division One next season

CAVAN defender Niall Murray is hoping his dreams of playing against the likes of Colm Cooper will become a reality next season as the Breffnimen edge closer to Division One.

Terry Hyland’s men took another important step towards top flight football on Sunday with a five-point win over Laois in their penultimate game in Division Two.

A draw at home to Galway next Sunday will guarantee them a Division One berth in 2017.

“I think playing Division One would mean a lot to this group,” said Murray, who was a second-half substitute against Laois.

“You can see how well we’ve done at U21 level, so the talent is there, we just have to start believing in ourselves and we have to be ready to take our chance.”

Murray takes inspiration from Roscommon’s steady rise to Division One with the Connacht men well placed for a semi-final play-off berth.

“You can see what Roscommon have done this year and we would have put ourselves on even par with them over the last few years,” Murray added.

“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t give the Dublins, the Kerrys, the Mayos a run for their money next year if we get promotion.

“It would just be fantastic travelling down to Kerry and playing against players like Colm Cooper who you would've looked up to when you were younger. You want to see how far you could push it.”

Now in his fifth season with Cavan, Hyland has assembled the best possible squad to push for promotion and to have a good Championship campaign.

Alongside Murray, Cian Mackey, Jack Brady, Rory Dunne and Eugene Keating were thrust from the Breffni bench last weekend.

Murray, one of Cavan’s better performers in 2015, picked up an injury on the eve of their Division Two opener against Tyrone and has struggled to get into the starting XV since.

In his only start against Fermanagh he was black-carded in the 45th minute and has otherwise had to content himself with a place on the bench.

“There is serious competition,” said the Cavan Gaels clubman.

“I’m still trying to get back into the team after getting injured in training before the Tyrone game. It’s great when you’re coming to training and no-one’s missing it and everyone’s trying to put their best foot forward otherwise the jersey will be taken off you.

“I was back for the Meath game and played a half but I’m not able to get myself back in yet. I got a black card against Fermanagh which probably didn’t help me.”

Murray, though, feels that Cavan are in far better shape than in previous seasons under Hyland.

“I would say we’re in better shape now,” said Murray.

“Last year we were new to Division Two and we didn’t really know what to expect, and yet we could’ve got promotion last year if things had gone our way. This year we set our stall out, we want to get into Division One and we’ve given ourselves the best chance of doing it.”

Criticised in recent seasons for their slow counter-attack, Hyland appears to have remedied that issue, with defenders Conor Moynagh, Ciaran Brady and midfield duo Thomas Corr and Liam Buchanan scoring from play against Laois.

“There’s a lot of pace in the half-back line now, the fitness is there, Eoin Maguire is doing great work with us in the background, and you see the likes of Jason McLoughlin has hit a few points from defence. It doesn’t matter who’s kicking the points as long as we’re getting them.”

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