Collective effort earned us seven Allstar nominations says Cavan manager Mickey Graham
CAVAN'S performances in last year's Championship were rewarded by a magnificent seven PWC Allstar nominations for Mickey Graham's Anglo-Celt Cup-winning side.
Only All-Ireland champions Dublin (13) and beaten finalists Mayo (12) received more nominations in the 45-man shortlist. Cavan's Raymond Galligan, Ciarán Brady, Padraig Faulkner, Gerry Smith, Thomas Galligan, Martin Reilly and midfielder Gearoid McKiernan are in the frame to make the final selection which last featured a player from the Breffni county when Dermot McCabe was recognised for his brilliance in 1997. Ollie Brady (1978) was the only previous Allstar recipient.
“It's always nice when players get highlighted and appreciated for the performances they put in,” said manager Mickey Graham.
“Conor Moynagh got nominated last year but it's been a long time since we got anything like this and to get seven nominations is just a credit to the lads and how they performed.”
Building on the work of his predecessors, Graham transformed his native county from alsorans to Ulster champions with a string of memorable victories which lit up the 2020 Championship. Cavan battled back from the dead to see off Monaghan (preliminary round) and Down (semi-final) before clinching their first provincial title in 23 years with a deserved victory over a much-vaunted Donegal side.
“Ulster Championships are hard-got and when you do win one, you've earned it,” said Graham.
“The lads have earned the right to be nominated for Allstars going on their performances throughout the year. It's all about hard work and then it's all about momentum and in sport you need that wee bit of luck along the way too and the confidence and belief which all comes with winning matches.
“When you win a match and back up that performance the following week it builds confidence and enthusiasm and energy and everybody else feeds off that.”
Graham brought in Dr Paul Gaffney, a sports psychologist, to work with the players “from time to time” and Gaffney's input certainly seems to have paid dividends last year.
“At the end of the day it boils down to the players' belief in their own ability and winning matches brings that,” added the Cavan manager.
“You're only as good as the men you have around you and the seven players who were nominated will be the first to tell you that it was the players around them who helped them achieve what they have.
“It was a collective team effort and we feel that there were a number of other players who could have got nominated as well. The lads who did get nominated will have the full support of the squad and they will appreciate that they are representing the rest of the squad.
“The nomination isn't just about them, it's about the team as a collective unit. There are some unsung heroes in our team, there are unsung heroes in every team, and they are the lads who go about their business and get the job done with no major fuss.
“Those lads are just as important as the lads who are getting the credit for last season by getting these nominations.”