GAA Football

If we can make it there, we'll make it anywhere... Cavan's Thomas Galligan looks forward to Croke Park and dicing with the Dubs

Thomas Galligan battles with Donegal's Michael Murphy in Sunday's Ulster Championship final at the Athletic Grounds. Picture: Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

IF Cavan can make it there they can make it anywhere, says Thomas Galligan who has no objection to meeting Dublin at Croke Park in the December 5 All-Ireland semi-final.

There have been calls – but no official request from the Cavan County Board as yet - for the game to be moved away from the home venue of the six in-a-row chasing Dubs. Galligan agrees that it “would probably help” the Ulster champions if the game was moved out of the capital but adds that it’s every players’ dream to play on the hallowed turf of the Jones’ Road venue.

“I'd just expect it to be in Croke Park because it's an All-Ireland semi-final,” he said.

“It would probably help us if it was out of Croker. It's not up to ùs to make a call on that, the GAA will make a call on that and we'll play wherever. At this stage we were meant to be long beat, so we'll go out and give them a go.

Yes, All-Ireland semi-finals are usually played at Croker Park, but Ulster finals are usually played in Clones and Lacken clubman Galligan produced another match-winning performance for the Breffnimen in Sunday’s Ulster final victory over Donegal at Armagh’s Athletic Grounds. The victory was the latest in a series of underdog wins for Mickey Graham’s men but the bar has been raised considerably for Cavan’s first All-Ireland semi-final since the county lost 1-10 to 1-17 against Kerry back in 1997.

“They (Dublin) are well used to playing there but I think everyone loves to play and wants to play in Croker,” said Galligan, who needed two stitches above his right eye after Sunday’s Ulster final.

“I don't think anyone would be disappointed if we had to play it in Croker because growing up that's exactly where you want to play. You want to be playing the best team in the country in Croker. If you make it there you'll make it anywhere.”

Cavan were full value for their four-point win against Donegal in the Anglo-Celt decider and beat the reigning Ulster champions despite losing Killian Brady (first half) and Conor Madden (second) to black cards. The night before Cavan’s win, Dublin annihilated Meath in the Leinster final, so the challenge is obvious as Cavan brace themselves for a crack at Dessie Farrell’s light blue machine.

“I suppose it's a little bit daunting but it's also exciting,” said Galligan.

“You're playing the best team in the country and you'll really know where you're at when you play them. There might be a bit of 'daunt' or whatever, but more people will be excited to get playing them. If you said at the start of the year that Cavan would be in an All-Ireland semi-final you would have gotten good odds. I think we'll enjoy it moreso that be afraid of it.

“Nobody expected us to get here. There's no pressure on us, we're going out and playing football. The favourites tag probably weighed heavily on Donegal the other night, so hopefully it'll be the same for Dublin.”

After Sunday’s victory, a delighted Galligan said he was thankful to be able to “give something back” to the long-suffering Breffni supporters who have followed their county through thick and many thin Championship days over the last two decades.

“We went out against Monaghan and we were told we had no chance and then we didn’t play well against Antrim so that didn’t lead well into the Down game and we were told we hadn’t a chance that day,” he said.

“We hadn’t a chance against Tyrone either apparently so it’s great to win and be able to prove people wrong because people in Cavan have been down in the dumps long enough.

“I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in our house. They’ll have been screaming at the telly but they probably didn’t even watch the match they’d have been that nervous.”

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GAA Football