Football

Table-toppers Cavan travel to Tullamore for Division Three clash

Killian Brady made his 100th appearance for Cavan in last week's win over Longford
Killian Brady made his 100th appearance for Cavan in last week's win over Longford Killian Brady made his 100th appearance for Cavan in last week's win over Longford

Allianz Football League Division Three round four

Offaly v Cavan (Sunday, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 2pm)

CAVAN defender Killian Brady remains in rude good health, 10 years down the line since making his debut for his county seniors.

Tomorrow in Tullamore, the Mullahoran Dreadnought is likely to be given an opportunity to test himself yet again with a run out against Division Three rivals Offaly.

Last Sunday, Brady’s arrival onto the field at Kingspan Breffni as a 57th-minute sub against Longford generated arguably the biggest cheer of the day as he clocked up a century of appearances for the Blues.

The 2020 Ulster SFC medallist togged out 32 times in the Championship at senior level; notched 52 National League games and appeared 16 times in the Dr McKenna Cup and he described it as “a huge honour” to complete the 100 appearances.

“Starting out 10 or 11 years ago, it probably didn’t seem I would get to this,” admitted the popular member of the famed ‘Gunner’ Brady clan from Mullahoran.

“But it’s great. I’m thankful that every manager I had over the years saw something in me to give me those caps so thanks to all of them.”

Brady’s ever-presence in the Cavan camp since making his bow against Monaghan in the Ulster SFC in 2013 says a lot about his own consistency but also about the consistency of selection Breffni-side over the decade.

Going into tomorrow’s crucial clash, the familiar look about the Cavan set-up and the panel is in stark contrast to that of Offaly.

While Mickey Graham is in his 5th year as Cavan boss, Kerry native Liam Kearns is in his maiden year with the Faithful County having taken over from long-time Offaly boss John Maughan.

For a variety of reasons, only half of the Offaly team that lost out to Westmeath in last year’s Tailteann Cup final are still in the current squad and the team looks greatly diluted without long time talismen Niall McNamee and Johnny Moloney.

On the plus side for the Leinstermen, Cian Farrell who missed all of last season is slowly getting back into the fast lane and made a substitute appearance last weekend in the 0-12 to 2-12 defeat to neighbours Westmeath. Also, the form to date this season of team captain and full-back Declan Hogan has been the stuff of inspiration as has the marksmanship of Arthur Sullivan at centre-full forward.

Tomorrow’s clash is crucial for both teams. As things stand, Cavan top the table with maximum points from their three games and a win over their hosts this weekend will leave them with one foot in the promotion paddock.

For Offaly, the team is at a crossroads, not only in terms of their management structure and their personnel but also their placing in the league table. A surprise victory tomorrow will catapult them into the running for promotion.

However, a defeat will leave the Leinstermen rooted on four points and looking over their shoulders at the relegation trapdoor despite boasting wins over Antrim (2-12 to 0-12) and Fermanagh (1-9 to 1-8) before their 0-12 to 2-12 loss to Westmeath last time out.

For his part, the aforementioned Brady isn’t downplaying the importance of Sunday’s clash.

“It’s huge,” the 31 year old opined. “It was always going to shape up the wa it has in this division; anyone could beat anyone and that was always going to happen and there were always going to be results that you couldn’t anticipate.”