Mickey Graham made a "great impact" with Cavan footballers: Ryan McMenamin

Mickey Graham has stepped down as manager Picture: Seamus Loughran.
Mickey Graham has stepped down as manager Picture: Seamus Loughran. Mickey Graham has stepped down as manager Picture: Seamus Loughran.

CAVAN assistant Ryan McMenamin has paid a glowing tribute to Mickey Graham for the “great impact” he made during his five years at the helm after announcing his departure yesterday.

McMenamin quickly ruled himself out of the running and leaves as part of Graham’s backroom team.

Graham’s exit doesn’t come as a major surprise given the many highs and lows he experienced during his time in charge.

The Cavan Gaels clubman led his native county to a remarkable Ulster title in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, bridging a 23-year gap from their last provincial success.

They went on to lose to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-finals and featured in the inaugural final Tailteann Cup last season.

They were knocked out of this year’s Ulster Championship by a resurgent Armagh side but recovered well to win all their group games in the Tailteann Cup before succumbing to Down in the quarter-finals.

“Mickey’s made a great impact on Cavan football,” said McMenamin.

“His man-management skills that he has - and people from the outside don’t realise it - but the professionalism and the culture within the players themselves were unreal.

“Mickey’s got Cavan back into Division Two and hopefully playing Sam Maguire football next year. Whoever comes in after him has a good base to work with.”

After defeating Donegal in the 2020 Ulster final, they found themselves playing Division Four football two years later after suffering a Division Three relegation play-off to Wicklow.

Graham could easily have exited then, but stayed to build the squad back up again via the Tailteann Cup and will be playing Division Two football in 2024.

McMenamin spent the last two years under Graham – but has no interest in assuming the Cavan reins.

“I’m taking Dromore at the minute and that’s enough for me,” said the former Tyrone defender.

“I loved the two years I had in Cavan. The Cavan boys are great lads. I was chatting to a couple of them this morning [about Graham’s departure] and I’d like to wish them the best for the future.

In a statement released by the Cavan County Board yesterday, it said Graham gave “serious consideration” on whether to stay or go.

“Mickey brought great passion to Cavan football as a player, development squad coach and manager,” read the statement.

“Cavan County Board would like to thank Mickey for his enormous contribution to Cavan Football and Cavan GAA especially during his time as manager of the senior football team. We congratulate him on his successes during his tenure and wish him every success in his future.”