MICKEY Graham says he’s confident that his players won’t get their heads turned by Ulster final fever in the build-up to Sunday’s big match against Donegal.
It was announced earlier in the week that Clones – with its new reduced capacity of 29,000 – is already sold out ahead of Cavan’s first Ulster final appearance in 18 years.
Fermanagh were in much the same boat last season, and their manager Rory Gallagher later admitted that he could have done more to temper the general ‘giddiness’ that engulfed his squad. Graham is confident, however, that Cavan won’t suffer from the same affliction.
“You’d definitely have to look at it, but I suppose myself and Dermot McCabe have experienced this before with Cavan on two different occasions, and we know exactly the excitement that will be generated in the county leading up to the game.
“But I think we have a bunch of mature lads that have been about a while now, and while they have had probably more bad days than good days, I firmly they believe they know they need to keep their feet on the ground, and won’t get excited by other stuff going on.
“It’s a great occasion for Cavan and Cavan people, but for Cavan players, it’s just another game and that’s how we have to approach it.”
Still though, Graham knows only too well what the celebrations will be like if they upset the odds this Sunday, having been part of the last Cavan team to win an Ulster Championship back in 1997.
“I still remember it as if it was yesterday. I hadn’t even time to breathe before the place was just converged on. I think I turned around and I was hit by a tribe of buffaloes that came towards me, and I never saw a pitch fill up as quickly in all my life.”
Graham also revealed that in days gone by he did harbour an ambition of managing Cavan, but that for a while he was happy to stay put in the club scene.
“It probably was an ambition of mine a few years ago. It was a job that I would have liked and then as I got older and probably wiser, I said to myself do you need the hassle of all this.
“The game had just gone to a new level in regards commitment and training five nights a week, and weekends away from your family and stuff.
“As I got older, I was saying maybe not, and I was happy enough to be working away in the club scene.
“Then the job came along and my name was thrown out there, and even at that, I wasn’t really that pushed on it until it came to a decision I had to make when I was asked would I come and talk to them.
“I said I would and it basically snow-balled from there. I got the job and here I am now.”