GAA Football

Cavan haven't been cute enough to compete in Division One says Killian Carke

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

CAVAN’S Killian Clarke has said the Breffni men lacked that little bit of “cuteness” required to be competitive in Division One this year.

Following last Saturday’s defeat to Monaghan at Clones, Cavan look set for the immediate drop back to Division Two for 2020, although a Roscommon defeat to Kerry coupled with a Mayo victory over Monaghan, and the small matter of a 22-point scoring difference swing between themselves and the Farney men, would secure their survival this weekend.

A duck breaking victory over the Rossies aside, Cavan have drawn a blank in their Division One campaign to date, but Clarke insists the leap in class hasn’t been too much to bridge ahead of their final day date with All-Ireland champions Dublin.

“I don’t believe it was too much of a step up,” said the midfielder, in his seventh year with the Cavan footballers.

“We probably learned a few things that we hadn’t picked up on the last few years. Our shooting boots haven’t been on the last few games we’ve played. We were creating similar enough scoring chances as the other team, we were breaking even on the kick-outs, we were dominating some phases of games as well, and we were just making silly mistakes going forward, giving the ball away too cheaply, and that’s cost us.

“We were there before [Division One], we’ve been up and down a wee bit – Division Two, Division One and back down as well and then back up after,” the Shercock man added.

“We’ve a lot of young lads in the team who are probably lacking that wee bit of smarts that a few veterans of Division One have. Probably that wee bit of cuteness. In Division One, if you don’t make the teams pay, they’ll make you pay, which is what I found anyway.

“We didn’t take our chances in a lot of the games and if them balls are being spilled or being turned over, the other teams are doing damage at the other end of the pitch, whereas Division Two teams weren’t last year. That’s probably the biggest step up – you have to take your chances when you get them.”

Clarke was far from happy with the result against near neighbours Monaghan last weekend but, as with other displays against the cream of the Gaelic football crop this spring, he also sees reason for optimism.

“Saturday was very disappointing,” he admitted yesterday evening as he made his way to training.

“We’d a lot of possession and put ourselves in a good position, but we just didn’t take our chances, at the same time. I probably sound like a broken record at this stage, but hopefully we can fix that for the Championship.

“Sunday’s a good test as well against the Dubs, it’ll give us a good gauge of where we’re at. There’s a few things we need to work on, obviously. But hopefully we can implement them over the next while and they come off alright.”

Dublin have had their own, admittedly more minor, problems of late, not least last Saturday’s Croke Park defeat to Tyrone, but Clarke says Mickey Graham’s panel will be focused solely on themselves this Sunday.

“We need to concentrate more so on ourselves than what the other team’s going to be bringing to the table,” he added.

“We need to work on ourselves and, regardless of Dublin coming down all guns blazing or if they don’t, we still need to improve, so I don’t think it’ll make a difference what mind-set Dublin’s in.

“I know we’ve lost a lot of games – although we’d a good win against Roscommon – but you’re only two and three and four points away from most of the teams: your Tyrones, your Mayos, your Kerrys, there’s a goal of a difference if you look at it that way.

“We found that we performed fairly well and we just didn’t get it over the line in the end. But we still ticked a lot of boxes on our side, which hopefully we can take a bit of encouragement into the summer from and see where it ends up.”

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