Football

Breffnimen look to keep the momentum as Longford come to town for Division Three derby clash

Dara McVeety's return to the Cavan fold this season has played a significant role in their perfect start to their Division Three campaign
Dara McVeety's return to the Cavan fold this season has played a significant role in their perfect start to their Division Three campaign Dara McVeety's return to the Cavan fold this season has played a significant role in their perfect start to their Division Three campaign

Allianz Football League Division Three round three: Cavan v Longford (Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm)

EVEN before the dust had settled at Kingspan Breffni after Cavan’s victory last time out against Tipperary, Mickey Graham was already looking ahead to Longford’s visit this Sunday.

“It’s good to have two wins from the first two rounds but there’s a big derby ahead of us against Longford and they’ll be gunning for us,” Graham said.

“I know from my time as a player, the games against Longford were some of our toughest and most memorable and I’m sure it’ll be no different this year.

“They’re getting it tough enough this season but they always seem to be able to raise their game against us and we’ll have to put our best foot forward to keep this winning run going.”

Cavan’s 1-19 to 1-7 victory over Tipp echoed the Blues’ NFL Division Four final victory over the Premier county last year and even before a ball was kicked in this year’s NFL Division Three campaign, the Breffni boys were favourites to make it back-to-back promotions as their in-form defender Dara McVeety conceded,

“It’s all about momentum,” McVeety said after the Tipp win.

“When we got promoted it was very much to try to hit the ground running to get a couple of victories, build a bit of momentum and build confidence.”

Confidence appears to be the operative word where Cavan are concerned right now, with the aforementioned McVeety’s hat-trick of points a case in point as the Crosserlough man makes up for lost time following his three-year sabbatical from the county team.

Cavan currently top the table at present, albeit on scoring difference, ahead of Offaly and Down, who also have four points from their two games to date.

Under the stewardship of Dublin legend Paddy Christie, basement bottom team Longford have struggled to date, losing out to first-round hosts Fermanagh and then heavily on home ground to Westmeath.

Longford’s failure to consolidate their 2023 O’Byrne Cup success – when a 3-3 tally from talisman Dessie Reynolds helped them secure their fourth such success – has ignited some early soul-searching in the Christie camp and although it’s not yet squeaky bum time for any of the eight teams in the division, the Leinstermen will need to turn their form around sooner rather than later.

Cavan boss Graham will approach this duel with quite a bit of inside information on his opponents having enjoyed extended spells managing Longford clubs Clonguish and, most famously, Mullinalaghta.

It was after steering Mullinalaghta (a half-parish shared with Cavan club Gowna) to the 2018 Leinster Club SFC title that Graham’s stock soared and, notably, he briefly double-jobbed when managing the Cavan seniors and Mullinalaghta in the same year (2019).

Longford’s 19-point defeat at home to Westmeath contrasts sharply with Cavan’s success in eking out a three-point away win over Westmeath.

Cavan sport the better form this season. They have momentum behind them and a spirit redolent of their 2020 Ulster SFC winning campaign. 

Everything points to a comfortable victory for the hosts.