THERE was a wide smile across the face of Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan as he swapped the league cup for his newborn son Rian after Saturday’s league final win over Fermanagh.
The Breffni blues needed an impact from the bench and an increased determination to see off Fermanagh and seal promotion with silverware.
“It was a game of two halves,” Galligan said after the game, while pointing to Cavan’s greater desire after the break.
Cavan had promotion already sealed with one game to go and their last game with Fermanagh in the league was a dead rubber. Galligan felt the Erne County’s greater need won out against a team who had their eye off the ball.
They turned the tables on Saturday in Croke Park, but the Breffni skipper is fully aware of the new focus they need against the winners of this weekend’s preliminary round game.
“If we in with that first-half performance against Armagh or Antrim, they will blow us away, it was too passive,” Galligan admitted.
“We didn’t work hard and let them out of defence quite easily. We are going to have to work a lot harder, higher up the field because it is open road here in defence if we don’t stop the runners, so that’s something we have to work on.”
Cavan were Ulster champions in 2020 on a night when Galligan’s emotional post-game interview spoke volumes for what it meant to a county starved of senior success.
Relegation and an exit to Donegal last season saw them in the Tailteann Cup and they had one hand on the cup until Westmeath’s Kieran Martin spoiled the party with a cracking goal in the dying minutes of the final.
“We know our route to the All-Ireland series is only though the Ulster Championship,” Galligan said of the Cavan immediate focus.
“That’s out short-term goal, to win our first round game.
“Whatever happens after that, we’ll take it and deal with it like men be it an Ulster semi-final or the Tailteann Cup.”