GAA Football

Cavan's Clarke wants to build on the win over Monaghan against Antrim

Cavan's Killian Clarke (right) chats to Antrim's Michael Pollock.
Pic Seamus Loughran
Kevin Og Carney

Killian Clarke cracks a smile as he recalls the slagging his father Seán gave him immediately after his competitive debut for Cavan seniors at Casement Park in 2011.

The defender 'cum midfielder says he remembers the national league game against Antrim not so much for the blues' victory but for a horrendous effort he had on goal:

"I went for a point but my shot went way wide. There was no big wind that day but the ball ended up going over the sideline and my father still has a laugh about it."

Lucky for Clarke jnr then that they say 'you're only as good as your last match." Last Saturday in a dramatic Ulster SFC preliminary round tie in Clones, the Cavan Collossus had a stormer in the face of Storm Aiden and a buoyant Monaghan crew.

Clarke is due to face up to the Saffrons again this Saturday in the quarter-finals of the provincial championship at Kingspan Breffni (1.15pm) for the first time since his bow nine years ago.

The roles will be reversed for Clarke and co this weekend. Underdogs against Monaghan last time out; hot favourites against Antrim.

With the wind at his back, Clarke could almost arrow a size five ball all the way from his home in Shercock over the border and into county Monaghan.

So how sweet must it have been for the Cavan colossus to get one over his Corduff neighbour and Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney?

"Obviously for us around Shercock, the games against Monaghan are always the biggest," Clarke comments, "and it's brilliant to beat them, especially when you go in as underdog but it'll count for nothing if we don't do the business this weekend."

Clarke engaged in a self-imposed exile after Cavan's sorry All-Ireland SFC qualifier round four defeat (0-7 to 1-20) to Tyrone last July. Last weekend's dramatic victory over Monaghan represented his first competitive outing for Mickey Graham's men in almost four months.

"Sometimes you think the grass is greener elsewhere," says Clarke as he attempts to explain his decision to walk away from top flight football last year.

"I missed the Gaelic and was delighted that Mickey and the players were okay with me coming back and it was great to put on the (county) jersey again about five weeks ago in a challenge game against Westmeath."

The financial analyst rates last weekend's duel with Monaghan as "the most dramatic game I've ever been involved in with Cavan." He believes it'll be a different ball game this time around:

"I don't think it'll be as open. I think they will set up defensively, get a lot of men behind the ball and try and do damage on the counter-attack," Clarke opines.

"I know from my time at Jordanstown (UUJ) that there's a lot of good footballers in Antrim and if we're not focussed on the job we have to do it could be another good day for the underdog.

"The Monaghan game was tough but we'll have had the week to rest up physically but we need to be right mentally this Saturday. We have to be sharp and smart against Antrim.

"There's always the danger of being complacent when you are the favourites but we can't take any team for granted. I'd say Antrim will be delighted the more we're talked up.

"We've been on the wrong side of surprise results over the years so we'll have to make sure we approach the game with Antrim with the right attitude.

"We made a lot of silly mistakes in the first half that helped Monaghan get a run on us. We don't want to be giving Antrim the same help. They showed in a couple of their league games earlier on this year what they're capable of."

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