GAA Football

Defending champs Cavan must relish being targeted: Thomas Galligan

Thomas Galligan picked up an Allstar for his performances in Cavan's 2020 Ulster Championship triumph, as attention turns to defending that title this summer. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

ALLSTAR midfielder Thomas Galligan insists Cavan must relish being the county with “a target on our back” once their Ulster Championship defence eventually gets under way.

The Breffnimen were considered rank outsiders at the beginning of the delayed 2020 Championship but remarkable comeback wins saw them past neighbours Monaghan and Down either side of victory over Antrim, before defending champions Donegal were left stunned in the provincial decider.

Galligan, his cousin and Cavan captain Raymond Galligan and full-back Padraig Faulkner picked up Allstar awards for their efforts, the county’s first since 1997, with Thomas Galligan also named Ulster player of the year.

The challenge now is to kick on and prove that long-awaited success was no flash in the pan.

“You hope you can back it up and live up to what you did the year before,” said the 24-year-old.

“We’re not going to be able to come in as the underdog or catch people on the hop the way we did Donegal, but that’s what you play football to try and do – to get to that position where people are trying to take you off your perch.

“It’ll obviously be a challenge but it’s one we’ll be happy enough to take on. We’ll have a target on our back, everybody will be out to beat you, but then everyone’s always confident of beating everyone in Ulster.

“That’s why it’s the best Championship in the country.”

Galligan and his team-mates had hoped to be preparing for the start of their National League campaign, which sees Mickey Graham’s men alongside Longford and Ulster rivals Derry and Fermanagh in Division Three North.

As it stands, though, uncertainty surrounds when the League will begin - if it begins at all - as the Irish government considers how best to negotiate the ongoing public health crisis.

The Lacken man admits it has been tough to stay motivated at times, but understands there is a much bigger picture to consider beyond football.

“I’m in the second year of an Ulster University degree in physiotherapy so I’m on placement at South West Acute Hospital. I have a routine at least - I can get out of the house and go to Enniskillen and do my work,” he said.

“Other people are maybe sitting at home and the walls are closing in on them, so I feel lucky in that sense. I’ve a reason to be going somewhere. I don’t get home until about six o’clock so the day’s well shook at that stage.

“You miss the social side of it more than anything. Half the reason you want to play is because you want to have a bit of craic with the lads and get chatting, but you don’t see anyone any more.

“At the end of the day though, football’s only a game. The pandemic is more important than playing so you have to let things run their course. It would be nice to be able to push on from last year, but the way things are going you wouldn’t even know if they’d run a League at this stage.”

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