By Shaun Casey
CAVAN are coming up against a wounded animal in former All-Ireland champions Dublin on Sunday (Kingspan Breffni 2pm), following a long break since their last outing.
The Dubs got their All-Ireland campaign up and running last weekend with a home defeat to Kerry, so another loss on the road this weekend could see Dublin crash out of the competition,
“They’ll have fire in their bellies, and I suppose we just have to match that because they’re going to be coming out all guns blazing,” said Cavan half-forward Aisling Gilsenan.
“If they have a little dip then they’re gone, which is hard to believe. But we’re up for the challenge and we’re looking forward to putting it up to them.”
It’s six weeks since the Breffni Blues last featured in a competitive game, that was a one-sided loss to Armagh in the final round of the Ulster Championship group stages.
Cavan have filled the void with club games and challenge matches and Gilsenan hopes that has kept them up to match sharpness.
“It’s been a long break since our last game which isn’t ideal, but I suppose we’ve played a few challenge games in between then and now and we’ve tried to keep up the match pace and hopefully we can try and match that (Dublin’s match pace) on Sunday.
“It is obviously difficult at senior level and a few injuries and things like that haven’t helped us but hopefully we’ll be able to push on and get a performance.
“We had a week where we went back to our clubs and we had club games to play, we went back training with the clubs and had two club games to play and then we were back in playing challenge games.
“You’ll have some people that mightn’t take a challenge seriously or mightn’t perform well or things just might not go well, and we might try different systems, but we’ve played two or three challenge games since the Armagh game.
“Hopefully that has pushed us on and prepared us for the All-Ireland series now and we can get a performance because that’s the main thing.
“Especially given what the Dubs have because they have serious forwards so I think if we can keep them quiet, we’ll be doing good.”
Gerry Moane’s ladies face two difficult back-to-back championship encounters, taking on the Dubs this weekend before facing last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Kerry. But Gilsenan insists that any group would have drawn serious challenges.
“I don’t think it really mattered which group we were in, all the groups were going to be difficult,” added Gilsenan.
“We meet Dublin in Breffni this weekend, on our home patch and hopefully give them a good test because if we do that, we’d knock out the former All-Ireland champions so that would be great.
“It’s nice when you’re on your home turf and then hopefully get a good bit of home support as well in Breffni Park and get behind us and that we’re able to get a performance to match that.”