By Shaun Casey
GAMES week-on week can take it’s toll on any team and the main prize for Cavan on Saturday as they head into a top of the table clash with Offaly (Longford 3pm) is an extra week’s rest if they win the game.
Every outing in league and championship has been of vital importance for the Breffni Blues and that hasn’t changed ahead of their final round clash at Pearse Park.
“The demand on players now is very tough because they’re playing a lot of games in a condensed time-frame,” said Cavan boss Mickey Graham. “If any fella picks up a knock now, he could be out for a number of weeks.
“Why the season is condensed, there’s more games and less time for the lads to recover. It is demanding on lads’ bodies so we’d welcome an extra week because we’re carrying a number of knocks and we’d be hoping another week would see a lot of them cleared up.”
Cavan have a record of two wins from two outings in the Tailteann Cup, having beat both Laois and London, but haven’t reached their full potential in the competition just yet.
“After the Armagh defeat, there was a bit of a lull and the two performances against Laois and London, we did just enough to win them but there’s lots of scope for improvement.
“As we saw last weekend, you look at the likes of Armagh and Dublin, a lot of teams there, it’s very hard to get up for games one after another. When you look at the format now, the National League, it’s takes so much out of teams because the league is so important.
“Then to go into a provincial championship and then an All-Ireland series, it’s very hard to keep getting up for games week after week no matter how good a team you are or how good the competition for places is within teams.
“There’s always going to be a lull and I think after the league there’s a bit of a lull and after the provincial championships because you still have a lot of games to play before you get into the knockout stages of the championship.”
Graham believes the provincial championships will eventually become an afterthought, as teams try to figure out the best way to approach the new format.
“The league has become the second most important competition, there’s more emphasis on it, it reflects where you stand when it comes to championship ranking. Usually if you’d have got to an Ulster final, you’d have got to a quarter-final, but now if you win an Ulster, you still have a minefield to go through before you get to an All-Ireland.
“It’s going to take teams a few years to figure out the best way. The way I see it happening, because the league is so important now, teams will put a lot of emphasis on the league, taper off for the provincials and then try to rise again for the last 16 because it’s very hard to keep going week-on-week.”