CAVAN and Donegal are the only two teams left standing after a few weeks of stomping through the mud in Ulster.
There is no doubt that after their victory against Tyrone, Donegal were clear favourites to land this title and if truth be told they have only further enhanced their standing with their performances to date. Cavan, on the other hand, are surprising us week-after-week with their grit, determination and desire.
Now let’s call a spade a spade. If this game was played in the middle of July I don’t think there would be anyone on this island of ours who would give Cavan a snowball’s chance in hell based on how both of these teams have performed to date.
Yes Cavan have ground out results and showed great character along the way, but if you look at their overall quality on show then you really have to admit that they are up against it here.
If we compare Cavan’s performances to Donegal‘s then the gap is obvious. Donegal are now being spoken about as the only possible contender to Dublin’s throne in this year’s championship and you would have to say that they merit the plaudits they are receiving.
In their games against Tyrone and Armagh, Donegal showed others outside of the county exactly what they have in their locker and when comparing both teams it is really hard to make an argument for Cavan this weekend.
Like I said earlier, if this game where to be played in the middle of the summer there would be only one outcome but for anyone who hasn’t noticed we are a long way from summer with pitches and the weather conditions worsening week-on-week, not to mention that the shock factor has disappeared from us all given how the year has progressed.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful to Cavan when I say this but the weather and heavy pictures are the only things that could make this game tight. Before the Cavan fans jump on my back and tell me that this Cavan team have made it to two Ulster finals in-a-row and they are making progress, I am only judging Cavan on what I have seen on the pitch this year.
If we take the first game against Monaghan, they were totally outclassed in the first half and only for a complete collapse from Monaghan they would have been beaten out the gate.
Yes they showed character and yes they hung in there, but it’s the actual quality, or rather lack of it, that I’m looking at here.
Again against Antrim, they struggled for large parts and Antrim really made a game of it only for Cavan to pull away in the end.
Their semi-final clash with Down produced one of the most one-sided halves of football I think I’ve ever seen in my life. Down tore them to pieces with their electrifying pace going forward and it really looked to me like Cavan had no answers. In the second half they improved and once momentum shifted in their favour their tails were up and again they dug deep.
Don’t get me wrong, I think they deserve huge praise and admiration but when thinking with your head instead of your heart I don’t think their grit and determination and doggedness will be enough to keep them in the game against this well-oiled Donegal juggernaut.
For me if I was a Cavan supporter, I would be looking at this weekend’s game as a test and the result I would be looking for is whether or not they have improved as a team since last year’s final.
Donegal won that game at a canter so this week would be all about improving on last year’s performance.
Bar a freak incident or a lucky chain of events, I don’t think Donegal can be beaten this weekend and again this is not to disrespect Cavan but in reality both teams are at different points in their development.
I could sit here and give you the normal nonsense of ‘yeah it could be tight and Cavan will put it up to them etc, etc’ but If 2020 has taught us anything it’s to look at the facts and figures that are right in front of our eyes, and I’m afraid they don’t look very good from a Cavan point of view.
If Cavan can make a game of it and are still in the contest with 15 minutes to go then they have shown that they are in the right path and they are moving forward in terms of their overall development.
At this point though, a win over Donegal is a bridge too far. Donegal by five points or more.