GAA Football

Cavan boss Mickey Graham welcomes back quintet for final Division Two clash

Killian Clarke (left) will be back in the Cavan squad for the clash with Roscommon. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Andy Watters

KILLIAN Clarke, Tomas Galligan, James Smith, Steven Murray and Oisin Pierson will all return when Cavan host already-promoted Roscommon at Kingspan Breffni on Saturday.

All five were missing last weekend when Mickey Graham’s men missed their chance to leapfrog Armagh in the Division Two promotion race. After the Orchardmen had lost to Roscommon, Cavan had a golden opportunity to move to second in the table but they lost in Kildare, meaning that promotion is almost certainly beyond them now.

Manager Graham insists “we haven’t given up” but of course he knows it’s a long-shot now.

“We’ll need things to go our way, we’ll need an awful lot of luck,” he says.

“But we can’t look back on last weekend and what could have been, we had our chances and we didn’t take them and we’ll move on and hopefully we’ll learn from it.

“I’ll try and correct a few of the wrongs from last weekend and hopefully we’ll put in a performance against Roscommon at the weekend.”

A mixture of injuries and Covid-19 withdrawals decimated the Cavan squad for last weekend’s trip to Newbridge. Graham has a senior have a panel of 38 but only 24 togged out in Kildare.

“We brought a number of young lads I to give them game-time and we’re disappointed we didn’t win the game,” said Graham.

“We had chances to get something out of it, we had a goal chance near the end to salvage a draw. So now we need to get a result against Roscommon and it won’t be an easy task. Their confidence will be high after their result at the weekend and they seem to have a clean bill of health which is a huge advantage but we can only control what we can do and we do have a few boys returning this weekend.

“Saying that, we hope that we don’t lose anybody else because we can’t afford to. The games are coming thick and fast and if we were to lose a couple more bodies this week with the few returning it would leave us in the same situation we were in last weekend. A week is a long time in these circumstances!”

Monday night’s announcement by the Irish government appears to have put lingering concerns over whether the All-Ireland Championships to bed. Apprehension remains but Graham says he’d “like to think that the season will be played”.

“There’s a hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear from somebody who has been in close contact with somebody and they’ve gone for a test and that person has to isolate even though there’s no symptoms,” he explained.

“We’d have had a few lads who’d have been in situations like that – in close contact with someone at work or a family member who’d tested positive. There are so many different scenarios and you just have to follow the protocols that are in place.

“There’s so much uncertainty out there at the moment, not just from a football point of view but in general – there’s a lot of uncertainty in what’s going to happen over these next few weeks.

“You’d like to think that we can continue and play football in safe surroundings if we follow the protocols that have been put in place but it is hard because lads do have another life outside football – they work and they are in contact with people and family members… There are so many things that come in to play.

“The lads are doing everything they are asked to do, the players are following all the instructions and directions they’ve been given but unfortunately they can’t control who the people they are in contact with have been in contact with. It’s just strange – you’d like to think it will go ahead, you’d like to be positive but you just have to play it day-by-day because you don’t know.

“We’re just keeping the heads down, hoping that we can get everyone on the pitch and see what happens because the whole landscape is changing all the time. If the cases keep increasing then stricter measures are going to have to come in because people’s health is the most important thing.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football