Cavan management and players had no issue playing Antrim at Corrigan Park in Ulster Championship clash
THE Cavan management and players never had any issue with travelling to Corrigan Park to play Antrim in the Ulster Championship, says Breffni boss Mickey Graham.
The April 23 Ulster quarter-final was the subject of much debate and controversy after the Ulster Council switched it from the west Belfast venue to Cavan’s Kingspan Breffni home.
After vociferous, and Graham says understandable, opposition from Antrim, that decision was overturned and the Saffrons will host the game at their Whiterock Road home.
Cavan manager Graham says the matter “was blown out of all proportion”.
“We were a bit annoyed about how things were portrayed over the last number of weeks,” he explained.
“We had no issue and we totally understand why Antrim would want to play in Corrigan Park – it’s their home field and home advantage in Championship football is huge.
“It was a matter of the attendance, that’s why somebody brought it up but as far as the Cavan management, players and county board are concerned, we were keen to go to Corrigan Park and we had no issue with it whatsoever. Some people made it a bigger issue than it was meant to be.”
Graham, who will take his side to Croke Park for Saturday’s Division Four final against Tipperary, says Enda McGinley’s Antrim will go into the Ulster quarter-final as favourites.
“Antrim have come on leaps and bounds under Enda,” he said.
“He’s done a great job with them, they’ve been unlucky not to get promoted out of Division Three this year and I’ve no doubt that they’ll be looking forward to us visiting Corrigan Park.
“They’ve been playing at a higher level than us in Division Three and they have home advantage on a ground that they are very familiar with, so they’ll be fancying their chances. They’ll be confident and they have been very good against Cavan down through the years so they’ll be slight favourites going into the game.
“But Ulster Championship is all about producing on the day and you just look at the standard that’s in Ulster at the moment, Ulster is very competitive and on any given day anything can happen and that’s the joy of our Championship, it throws up shocks every year.”
Before Cavan turn their minds to the trip to Belfast they have Saturday’s Division Four final to occupy them. Oisin Kiernan will miss the game through injury but Martin Reilly, Ciaran Brady, Conor Brady, Conor Smith, Oisin Pierson could be in contention for the meeting with the 2020 Munster champions.
“Promotion was our main goal at the start of the year and we’re just delighted that we’ve achieved it,” said Graham.
Tipperary turned Cavan over in round five of the League but a one-point win against London and a more comfortable victory over Waterford last weekend meant the Breffnimen sealed promotion. Graham views Saturday’s final as a valuable exercise for his players.
“Every title you play for, you have to take it seriously whether it’s the McKenna Cup, the League or the Championship,” he said.
“When you get to any final you have to go out and win it because days like this don’t come around too often and Cavan have been in a number of League finals down through the years and weren’t able to get over the line so we’ll be hoping we can get a result and also for the confidence and the belief that it will bring to the squad because it will give the younger lads an appetite to push on and improve.”