Division Three relegation play-off
Cavan v Wicklow
Saturday, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm
IT’S hard to believe that reigning champions Cavan will plummet to the depths of Division Four if they lose this match, but that’s where things are after a poor showing in the group stages.
Mickey Graham has experimented with his side in the league, which doesn’t do much to dispel the perception that he’s a championship man only, but Cavan fans will still be disappointed that they didn’t fare better, the nadir being an opening day defeat to an inexperienced Fermanagh side.
When your luck’s out, it’s out, and they’ve lost Ciaran Brady for the rest of the year to an ACL injury, and he’s one of those players who’s basically irreplaceable.
Still though, the sense remains that they should have enough left in the kitty to take care of business against Wicklow, who were promoted from Division Four last year.
Experienced players Gearoid McKiernan and Marty Reilly, who recently crossed the 150-game barrier with his county, weighed in with goals in their narrow defeat to Derry a fortnight ago, while Raymond Galligan is as dependable as ever between the sticks.
All-action All-Star Thomas Galligan is returning to fitness and picked up 20 minutes game-time against Derry. He mightn’t start against Wicklow, but if things are looking dicey at any stage, it’s likely that Mickey Graham will throw him into the fray.
Possibly the main area of concern is their inside forward line, which only managed a sum total of one point in their defeat to Derry, which came from the boot of rookie player Caoimhin McGovern. Conor Madden has plenty of talent and scored the winning goal against Donegal in last year’s Ulster final, but he is yet to do it on a consistent basis. If they’re to replicate the run of last year, they’ll likely need him to start contributing more especially with attacking half-back Ciaran Brady now out of the frame.
Wicklow memorably thrashed Antrim to achieve promotion from Division Four last year, scoring seven goals against the shell-shocked Saffrons, but they haven’t been in such free-scoring form in Division Three. They finished bottom of their group and scored less than 10 points a game, so really this should be a Cavan victory here.