Galligan’s Cavan starting to take shape

By Niall Gartland

CAVAN produced a massively encouraging performance in their first league game of the Raymond Galligan era, but it could be difficult to pick up a head of steam if they don’t put their best foot forward at home to Donegal this Sunday.

The Breffni County were full value for their victory over Kildare as they produced a slick showing against the Lilywhites. The plus points were plentiful, the negatives too few to mention as they ease past Kildare on a scoreline of 0-16 to 0-12.

Now they take on a Donegal side with whom they’ve become well-acquainted over the last five years. The 2019 Ulster final didn’t go to plan, but they upset the odds big time in the twilight of 2020 with their first provincial triumph in nearly a quarter of a century.

In a way it seems a long time ago now and when these two sides collided in the 2022 provincial series, they faded on the home straight despite a stirring performance from targetman Paddy Lynch.

Cavan had a sketchy enough McKenna Cup game but the pre-season is the pre-season and they can take great confidence from the manner of their victory over Kildare last weekend. They were well-organised in defence, their finishing up front was top rate, and the likes of Niall Carolan and Gerry Smith were hugely effective in breaking enemy lines while Tiernan Madden got through a mountain of work up front. The aforementioned Lynch was also hugely effective from the dead ball.

Ciarán ‘Holla’ Brady was back in action having returned from club duty with recently crowned All-Ireland Junior Club Football champions Arva while former captain Dara McVeety picked up valuable game-time having shaken off an injury. Gowna midfielder Ryan Donohoe looks like he has what it takes to nail down a permanent midfield spot while they’re also awaiting the return of another midfield player, James Smith, who probably won’t make it back in time for the Donegal clash.

So Cavan fans will have a spring in their step as they look forward to their first home tie of the campaign as they welcome Jim McGuinness’ Donegal to town. Their opponents likewise will be confident after the manner of their one-sided win over Cork last weekend and it makes for an interesting tussle between two teams who could find themselves duking it out for promotion if they carry on the promise of their first-round league wins.

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